WHO ARE THEY? The female indie-punk trio from Brooklyn who named themselves after the crusading prepubescent heroines of outsider artist Henry Darger’s 15,000-page magnum opus The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. No, I haven’t read it either. I’m waiting for the audiobook.
WHAT IS THIS? Their fourth studio album, first release in eight years and their long-awaited comeback disc — the trio finally reunited this summer in L.A., more than five years after they originally disbanded.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A nostalgic throwback album that picks up right where they left off — and reminds you why they were so great in the first place. Anchored by fuzzy, ramshackle pop-punk and topped with surfy melodies, empowered lyrics and hazy harmonies, these dozen surprisingly lush cuts are simultaneously a strong comeback and a work that traces the sonic signatures of both their eastern roots and their new Cali home.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? The Best of Both Coasts.
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While trying to remember what you did with your old CDs of 2011’s Share the Joy, 2009’s Everything Goes Wrong and the 2008 self-titled debut.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Scrappy, unvarnished, bracing, abrasive, crashing, retro, blurry, sweet, melodic, chiming.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Start with the sugar-buzz opener Most of All, the thumpy strummer At It Again and the aptly titled Sludge, and go from there. You won’t be disappointed.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘After all these years, they still sound like an amateur garage band — thankfully.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? If you were a fan before, you’ll probably revisit it a few times. If you’re a newbie, it makes for a fine intro.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A FLAVOUR, WHAT FLAVOUR WOULD IT BE? Salted caramel.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Not all reunions are worth supporting. But this one is.