Photo Credit: Matty Vogel
Girlfriends is a musical group composed of Nick Gross, co-owner of Big Noise Records, and solo artist Travis Mills, both of whom are veterans of the MySpace musical period. Upon the death of a good friend and collaborator Lil Peep, Travis Mills made the decision to channel the grief he felt of the loss into music. Mr. Mills by chance saw Nick Gross drumming on social media and decided that he had found his musical partner. Together the duo draws on the shared pop-punk influences of Blink-182, 5 Seconds of Summer, and others. (e)motion sickness is their second full-length album.
The term pop-punk was coined not long after the birth of punk rock itself and is broadly defined as a group of bands who can trace their aural lineage more directly to the Beatles than to, for instance, The Stooges. Pop-punk is characterized by its uptempo beat and often clever and emotional lyrics. The 1990s saw an explosion in this particular genre, with many bands, much like Girlfriends, hailing from sunny Southern California. Clean recording and professional arrangements are all hallmarks of this type of popular punk rock. Girlfriends take inspiration from this tradition only partly as they seem to favor the pop element of the recipe over the punk aspect. Their sound could be described as early Avril Lavigne meets The Chainsmokers. Maybe they will look into those collaborations in the future.
So, (e)motion sickness. This album dropped on June 17, 2022. It has 14 songs and clocks in at just over 41 minutes. If Nickelodeon, and maybe they have by now, had a show about a couple of high school kids who download Ableton and steal their dad’s old 808, it might well sound like this. The cover art, band photo, song titles, and subject matter ( breakups, suicidal ideation in a jokey way(?), the summer, etc) are just wrong and off, like an improv group going off a vague clue. The music itself is the same song rehashed 14 times: electronic, slick, sugar-sweet, weak, and forgettable.
It is important to try and find value in every artistic offering, God knows the world is bleak enough as it is. And, as this is a sophomore effort, maybe Girlfriends will come out with an album that will be cemented in history forever in the next couple of years. Maybe. Anything is possible. But, here and now, and in the case of this particular album? Unless you really like the idea of the soundtrack to a scene kid version of Victorious, do not go near this joint.