Indie rock band Girlpool is evolving. Lead singers Cleo Tucker and Harmony Trividad—originally both female-identifying with high ranges for singing—began the band’s career in 2013 together and remain the heads of the group. Since the band’s last album Powerplant in 2017, Tucker has gone public with the news that they are nonbinary and that they are taking testosterone.
Girlpool released their new album What Chaos is Imaginary on Friday Feb. 1 featuring the more masculine vocals of Tucker in harmonic contrast to the higher vocals of female-identifying Trividad.
In a 2018 interview with i-D, Tucker confessed that they were worried about their new tenor vocal range.
“I’m in no way in a comfortable place with my voice,” Tucker said. “I don’t know what I can or can’t reach, and it’s still changing.”
This discomfort is not evident on What Chaos. Tucker’s strong, tenor voice graces listeners’ ears in the first second of the album’s opening track, “Lucy’s.” This song is especially rock-heavy and less surreal than many of the other tracks on the album.
Trividad’s harmonies with Tucker have always been a staple of the band’s music. Now harmonies twine together with two very different voices, one low and one high, which is a startlingly different, but similarly impressive sound for the band
Several songs, like “Where You Sink” and “Pretty,” focus on Trividad’s vocals, calling back to the band’s usual sound. These songs come close to the heavy-handed, minor-chorded riot songs that Girlpool has been known for in the past but remains apart from this genre by lacking protest lyrics.
“Where You Sink” focuses on the depression that spawns from being an educated poet who can’t do anything to fix herself besides write educated songs about depression. “Pretty” echoes the emphasis on depression and the feeling that one has lost their purpose and youth.
“Hire” is an especially eloquent track and features Tucker on lead vocals. The song starts with quiet guitar and escalates into a louder chorus with more of a rock vibe, echoing patterns of songs by other alternative artists like Elliott Smith or Wilco.
“Figure out what gets me past / a second in the shade / fucking up a useful place / purgatory please me,” the band says on the track.
The album’s title track, “What Chaos is Imaginary,” starts with ominous lofty tones followed by Trividad’s eerie vocals.
“You live halfway / in a transient home off the highway / didn’t mama tell you / there’s so much to see / there’s a silver lining / and a ripping seam,” Trividad sings.
The song holds a form of fragile hope that differs from much of the rest of the album, granting the record a pervasively hopeful message thanks to that track’s shared title with the wider album.
Despite Tucker’s concern regarding their changing vocal ability, they performed excellently on their new album with Trividad. New harmonies and an exploration with surrealism in music quality make for an interesting twist on the original Girlpool sound.
Fans of the ever-changing band will support them no matter the changes they decide to go through, and the new sound of What Chaos is Imaginary is the first of many thrilling journeys audiences can go on with Girlpool.