Girls – Broken Dreams Club EP

Since their debut Album last year, San Francisco’s residential life-lusting cool kids, Owens and Chet “JR” White (and their much less talked about band mates) have garnered the unquestioned adulation of critics and built a fan base in the trend-obsessed masses (i.e. people who read Pitchfork). Even with the accolades, the adoring fans and that hot chick from the cover of Hellhole Ratrace, Owens still has some demons to deal with, if the slow-burning, retro ballads abound in Girls’ latest EP, Broken Dreams Club are any indication. Following Album’s heartbreaking tell-all truthfulness – a charmingly jejune diary of frontman Christopher Owens’ numerous trials and tribulations – Owens has yet to let down his famously flowing locks on this equally melancholy contribution to indie music. Unsettlingly bittersweet heartbreakers make up much of the album, including the aptly-titled, “Heartbreaker.”  Songs like this, with formulaic sentimentality and predictable lyrics like, “and when I said that I loved you honey/ I knew that you would break my heart,” are nonetheless eloquently simple, an endearingly clumsy stab at poetic grace reminiscent of junior-high first loves and losses. Owens’ caught-in-the-act candidness makes him, first and foremost, a real charmer, the sort of childish prodigy of alternative music.  It also makes his twee teenage broodings, like his schmaltzy sympathy for the typically troubled teenage girl on opener, “Oh So Protective One,” sweet rather than affected. Owens’ lovelorn and characteristically imperfect croon harmoniously mixes gloom with even the breeziest of tunes, dampening the song’s sunny backing horns to befit a soundtrack to tortured adolescence more than the camp of  gay porn.The title-track, with its drawled southern guitars and lamentations about everything bringing him down — a theme once again explored on “Substance,” a buzz-kill ballad relating Owens’ own drug-numbed misery – wades knee-deep into weepy self-pity, but as always, is saved by Owens’ near supernatural likeability.    Listeners often look to Owens’ super depressing childhood – abandoned by father, raised by Children of God cult, later homeless and pill-addicted on the streets of Texas – to justify just how undeniably sad Girls’ music is, but how good it sounds is justification enough.