Little Girls.jpg

I’ve listened to the new EP from Little Girls, Tambourine, countless times through after receiving it a few days ago, and still can’t make out a damn word of it. Josh McIntyre mumbles and howls some filthy rich melodies over 13 minutes, but spends so little time out in the open, it’s almost as if he, you know, wanted to cleanse his ego, or something.

He shares this desire with Buddhists, who deny the idea of a permanent, non-changing self – anatta (write that down). McIntyre and his band Little Girls are the creators of this material, certainly, but they could care less to be identified with it. I’m judging by their awkward name choice – probably meant to confuse more than offend – and the near-anonymous photo above, a visual representation of their sound, and as accurate as press pics can get.

Tambourine starts with “Youth Tunes”. It’s probably the best rock song I’ve heard this year, despite everything working against it: McIntyre’s voice is incomprehensible (he might as well be singing in Esperanto), the music is repetitive, shapeless, and at the moment where one would expect a final repetition of the chorus, one gets a sample from some Frankenstein movie. Somehow, all these elements combine into an epic whole, a work of near-religious catharsis so simple and powerful that the countless hours I’ve spent combing through social networking pages, to find music I actually can care about, are justified in merely 2:43.

Unlike most “experimental” musicians, who seem to figure out their gimmick first, then work backwards into actual songwriting, Little Girls are obviously starting with some good material and improving it on delivery. “Imaginary Friends” would probably sound fine with a budget, but under McIntyre’s DIY, dirt-caked tutelage, it´s made more exciting and timeless. His wordless wailing hook (“ooooh, ooooh...”) wouldn’t go far in the studio, but with his equipment, it echos noisily into the open world. If he figures out how to replicate that effect in a live setting, no one will be able to stop him.

The Thrills EP (released in May) is less successful, but still contains great moments. “Thrill” and “What We Did” are golden; the latter has a propulsive, garbage-pail sound in its percussion, showing the subtle ways the band has found to tweak its own formula. “Pigeon Lady” has a more punk-rock feel, that shows the band in a stilted songwriting mode. It’s also the shortest song on these two releases, and probably could’ve been excised completely.

The evolving, selfless anatta that I see in Little Girls has sold them to my brain. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the ego-driven music industry, which awkwardly attempts to carve a new identity for each set of two guitars and a drum kit. Josh McIntyre seems to be retreating from that, and his music is all the better because of it.

Little Girls
Mexican Summer
12 minutes
Rating: 3.5/5

Little Girls
Paper Bag Records
13 minutes
Rating: 4.5/5

Staff writer Jesse Skinner tackles anything and everything thrown his way but has a natural bent for film, music and current events.