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The Beautiful Girls
Controlled Substance Sound Labs

The Beautiful Girls have come a long way to develop a sound that moves beyond their early days of easily palatable, semi-generic “college rock.” The group still draws heavily from the Police, O.A.R. and Jack Johnson, but front man Mat McHugh’s expanding songwriting skills and studio prowess have resulted in the Girls’ most rewarding effort to date. The sometimes campy, campfire acoustic sing-along vibes of earlier efforts have been discarded in favor of more pronounced reggae rythmics, laid back instrumental flourishes (see the vibrantly spacey woodwinds on “Bring Me Your Cup”) and even a few moments of hard rock wanderlust.

The disc opens with a momentary stumble, as a heavy-handed barrage of sluggish Incubus-style hard rock riffage reveals McHugh’s strained Anthony Kiedis-lite vocals on “Royalty.” But soon enough this opening track finds its footing and delivers a catchy, perfectly layered chorus and, for the most part, the Girls drop the impersonation act and attempt to forge their own path through rock’s wasteland expanses, lapsing into an ever-expanding cloud of world-wide influences (even utilizing the Oz-centric wallop of a didgeridoo). These Aussies hit their stride by the second cut, the impeccably titled, “Sir, Your Fashion Has the Cold Heart of a Killer” with it’s intertwining guitars sprinkling and bursting like aural firecrackers. A nicely explored whisper-quiet dub breakdown serves to drive home the power of the track’s serpentine melodies. Album closer, “Dealer Wins” allows plunking percussion and ambient synths to underscore McHugh’s weathered narrative.

The surf-storm beach lullabies, “Spanish Town” and “Wounds” deliver the type of melancholic, sunrise chansons perfect for nursing busted heartstrings or festering hangovers. Sonically-enhanced and advancing toward a signature sound, the Beautiful Girls create a small monument with Ziggurats on their way to a truly mature masterpiece.

Favorite Track: “Sir, Your Fashion Has The Cold Heart Of A Killer”

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Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in San Francisco with a girl and a designer dog (Chihuahua vs. dachshund). He is in a band by himself and has a myspace account ( and a production company ( for freelance film and crit/journo work.

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