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Album review: Vivian Girls' 'Everything Goes Wrong'

September 7, 2009 |  8:50 pm

The East Coast trio Vivian Girls arrived in 2008 with a 10-song, 22-minute debut that sounded as if it was recorded with a shoestring and paper cups in place of microphones, but it had an innocent charm all its own, thanks to the group's bittersweet melodies and buzzing guitars.

The follow-up is nearly twice as long, and though the production remains low-fi, the group has toughened up after a year on the road. Cassie Ramone sounds like a more confident guitarist, stretching out her leads, while the bass lines of Kickball Katy bubble out front to carry the melodies. And once again those melancholy harmonies are to die for, as Ramone chips off pieces of her heart in lamenting the boy who got away.

This time, the faster songs are harder-edged (the furious "Survival") and the slow ones eerier ("Tension," "The End"). And when a little light finally surfaces near the end of the album ("You're My Guy"), euphoria reigns.

-- Greg Kot

Vivian Girls
"Everything Goes Wrong"
In the Red
Three and a half stars