On their eponymous debut EP, Los Angeles teens Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad don’t introduce their guitar-bass-vocals outfit so much as they signal their arrival, with an unexpectedly shrill indictment: “You leave me cryin’ in the fuckin’ rain/ I want ya.” They don’t mince words, or even use that many (this review is probably longer than their lyric sheet) but at just 15 minutes, there’s not exactly time for nuanced overtures. Instrumentally, Girlpool are rudimentary, too, meshing deliberate, repetitive bass lines with bare-bones chord progressions to create a simple, familiar backdrop.
But it’s their voices that really plug them in: Nasally harmonious, they perform with such insistence that they turn the record into a sneer of exasperation — or, when words fail, just straight-up bloodcurdling rage-screams. The band wield the record’s brevity like a scythe, alighting on the various frustrations that plague the Internet-era teen feminist, from privilege (“I’ll never understand/ What it means to be a man who is white ’cause/ He never has to fight”) to the exhausting trappings of existing as a woman (“I go to work every day/ Just to be slutshamed one day”), with the concise, unfettered efficiency of an act that knows its audience. Even more than their contemporaries (puckish feminist outfits like L.A.’s Upset or Seattle’s Tacocat, for example), Girlpool deliver a goody bag of Rookie-core empowerment anthems into the inviting, wide-open arms of those in need of one (or maybe six) of those rage-screams. If the best new bands polarize, Girlpool should have no trouble flourishing.