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GIRL FRIDAY (Buy CDs by this artist)
Swimmer (Get Fresh) 2003

Girl Friday's debut album is an eclectic affair. Rather than swear allegiance to one particular stylistic flag, this Brooklyn-based trio ranges from blissed-out shoegazing to spiky power pop, incorporating nuances of psychedelia, reggae and folk along the way. "Leave No Worry Here" evokes My Bloody Valentine's lush, trippy melodicism (with Amanda Dora's vocals even bearing a passing resemblance to Bilinda Butcher's); beautiful Stereolab-style sing-song harmonies distinguish the trumpet-adorned "Lost"; "Worthy" could be PJ Harvey in a pastoral mood; and "Make My Peace" gives some dubby breathing space to its indie-rock drive. More than just a multi-faceted collection of tunes, many of these tracks also display a refreshing degree of internal variety and complexity. In particular, Girl Friday shows that beardy progsters don't have a monopoly on shifting time signatures, changing tempos and inventive song structures, and that such things can produce economical, attractive results. Records that refuse to declare a unified sonic identity often lack coherence, but Swimmer doesn't fall into that trap; the strength of the songwriting is the unifying thread here.

[Wilson Neate]