Indie fans are raving over What Chaos Is Imaginary. The album — a 14-track, multigenre buffet of music released Feb. 1 — is the musical project of Los Angeles-based duo Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, collectively known as Girlpool. A smorgasbord of styles is experimented with as the tracks go on, giving listeners a first-hand feel into the band’s range and ability to evolve.
The cover art is one of the album’s more colorful features. On it, Tividad embraces Tucker in a dreamgaze cloudy sky. Sporting bright hair and a clashingly cool patterned shirt, Tividad is powerful in all her glory.
In terms of sound, What Chaos Is Imaginary holds some consistently darker elements than Girlpool’s past works. The first song on the album, “Lucy’s,” presents subtle gothic undertones. Groaning vocals and muted, cloudy guitar chords make the track a dark one to open with.
Nonetheless, Tucker and Tividad called the album release “hugely cathartic” on Twitter. “Pretty,” a melodic trip into confusion, sadness and feeling “pretty broken,” ties into this feeling of release. The lyrics describe a lack of confidence and instability, but the instrumentals bring an upbeat power to the delivery, suggesting growth as the song progresses.
Dreamy acoustic number “All Blacked Out” is a similarly intimate addition, as well as the sad boy chapter of What Chaos Is Imaginary. The loud twanging of string instruments complements the stargazing vibe behind strained, quiet verses. The vibrato of the guitar adds small puddles of dynamism to the track, which otherwise stays fairly monotone.
This gentleness is contrasted by more upbeat indie numbers such as “Stale Device.” The gentle break sounds like the theme song for a Yeah Yeah Yeahs revival movement — but in the best way. The song’s layered echoes blend into high-registered harmonies and melancholy guitar thrashing in the background of the track. “Hire” is another more traditionally indie tune, but with an element of rock. The faster pace, clear drums and build into the outro give “Hire” an edgy tone similar to the likes of folk punk groups such as The Front Bottoms.
The titular song on the album is the longest on the record, clocking in at just more than five minutes. Of all the songs on What Chaos Is Imaginary, this one felt like it dragged on longer than it needed to. There isn’t a bad song on the album, but there are definitely songs that are better than others, and one of the other songs could have benefited more from the extra run time.
With this album, Girlpool solidifies some simple facts: Tividad and Tucker are really good at artsy whispering; indie can try to emulate goth if it wants to, and the guitar can always reach new levels of ethereal.