The Jealous Girlfriends

The Jealous Girlfriends

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On their second, self-titled album, the Jealous Girlfriends are nothing if not versatile -- and sometimes, almost too versatile for their own sake. Their debut Comfortably Uncomfortable captured the band just after Josh Abbott joined the existing duo of Holly Miranda and Alex Lipsen; Lipsen and Miranda's wistful pop sound dominated that album, so Abbott's contributions as the Girlfriends' other singer and songwriter only begin to show on this album. The Jealous Girlfriends begins by alternating Miranda and Abbott songs, emphasizing how different their styles can be: "Secret Identity" is soft and dreamy, and though it has a bit more edge than it might've on Comfortably Uncomfortable, Miranda's elegantly languid guitars and voice -- which recall Hope Sandoval and the Concretes' Victoria Bergsman -- are the main attractions. "How Now," on the other hand, is all drum machines, ripcord guitars and Abbott's urbane sneer. The Jealous Girlfriends continues with this not-unpleasant musical tug-of-war until "I Quit," which unites Miranda and Abbott's dual, and sometimes dueling, voices into a soaring, satisfying whole. "Hieroglyphs" is even better, its woozy guitar trails and massive but somehow distant sound providing the perfect foil to Abbott and Miranda's aloof harmonies when they sing "I don't know why you care/'Cause I don't." From there, the Jealous Girlfriends flit from the brassy noir cool of "Organs on the Kitchen Floor" to the brash new wave of "Something in the Water" before ending on the same dreamy note they began the album with on "Carry Me." While the Jealous Girlfriends' songs are all good individually, they sound like they're from different albums. The gap between the band's creative forces is still noticeable and sometimes awkward, which makes The Jealous Girlfriends sound more like an occasionally uneven but mostly intriguing debut than their first album did.

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