Although pure fans of both electronica and rock often look upon the opposite type of music with general contempt, one of the only ways for each party to advance is by embracing the ingenuity and core characteristics of the other side.
Shinkoyo Records co-founder Matt Mehlan understands this idea and, instead of being wish-washy about his allegiance, has proven through a couple Skeletons solo releases (and now Git, a full length with current full-time backing band, the Girl-Faced Boys) that he is pushing fresh ideas forward and old identification hang-ups to the side.
The core of Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys’ sound is produced from a mixture of indie rock and offbeat electronic pop styles. Although words like “avant” and “fresh” are used in description, it doesn’t mean that Mehlan is some sort of trailblazing martyr; the rock-electronic thing was done before to a much broader effect (see Can, Pink Floyd, or Tortoise), but Skeletons & the Girl-Faced Boys breach a small gap where many feel stylistically uncomfortable to tread. Namely, they venture into meeting spot of Avant-garde, pop, rock and world music styles, where each of the four dynamics seems to imply mutual exclusiveness and creative shortcomings [i.e.: Innovation in pop music? No way. Westernized formality rubbing up against non-Western instrumentation? Doubtful.]. Beyond any unlikelihood, Git somehow makes it work in a way that Mehlan & Co. can claim as their own.
To say that the album builds itself up as ‘all-killer’ wouldn’t be completely accurate. Even during my first listens, I enjoyed certain tracks (”’Git’”, “There are Seagulls Who Live in Parking Lots”, etc.), so much that I wanted them to cover for songs that were weaker or at least less conventionally likable. The low moments aren’t the usual filler either; instead, they are stretches when Mehlan’s innovative, experimental electronic side sticks its head out maybe a little bit too far. Some listeners, myself included, are not always so ready to open our ears, especially when tracks like these drag on for five minute stretches (“There’s a Fly in Your Soup and I Put It There” and “Do You Feel Any Better?”).
At its peaks, Git is hotter than hell, and creatively speaking is one of the year’s better creations. It all starts with “See the Way,” in which an electronica-fueled locomotive rolls alongside the Girl-Faced Boys’ clunking collection of world percussion, including cow- and agogo bells and concert bass drum accentuations. Buried in the composition are a four-on-the-floor drumkit patterns and an elastic, synth-funky bass line that brings everything to a nearly danceable culmination. On top of that is Mehlan’s falsetto voice which, although potentially annoying, is layered in harmony to create an easily accessible, deep songwriting form – and all this is before Git has even broken stride.
”’Git’” is the album’s strongest selling point. The title track is a brief homage to synth pop and the 80s hip-hop grooves found in break dancing circles. It is also the first place where Mehlan shows his eccentric lyrical side (he sings, “Forget the headache/Walk away from it/Return the favor/Keep keep keep”) and where the Girl-Faced Boys get funky in an overt, orchestrated Thriller type of way.
The rest of the album is similarly crafted in the attitude of blending potentially dissonant, experimental sounds with the infectiousness of indie rock and electronic pop. Truly a representation of the labels it was co-released on, Git fashions a unique style of avant-pop showcasing the electronic experimentation of Ghostly International and the unpredictable pop edges of Shinkoyo Records.