Monday, August 14, 2006

Girls In Hawaii - From Here To There: MAGNET Apr/May 2006

For the record, Girls in Hawaii are neither girls nor Hawaiian; the Belgian band's name is more a signifier of desire. Vocalist Antoine Wielemans and guitarist/vocalist Lionel Vancauwenberge, the two songwriters behind the sextet, seem intent on making a transatlantic journey, and they wear it on their CD sleeves. From the album title to the Jenny Holzer truism in the liner notes ("Being sure of yourself means you're a fool"), it's clear the group seeks an alternate identity. At least it knows whom to emulate. On this debut (released two years ago in Europe to significant sales), Girls In Hawaii summon Nirvana on a synthesizer kick. Kudos to Cobain for providing the blueprint of crunching guitars and minor-key progressions. The Wrens and Portastatic are other noteworthy forefathers, especially when the Girls start chugging along with rolling, screeching guitar lines. What separates the band from its record collection is purely accidental but nonetheless refreshing: Wielemans' ESL lyrics and delivery lead the Girls with a naive, confident swagger. "When I'm feeling the right/Holding to catch the stars," he sings on "Bees & Butterflies (Down)." What's more American than a foreignor struggling with the language?

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