Girls Against Boys ‎– Nineties Vs. Eighties

3 out of 5

Label: Adult Swim

Produced by: Girls Against Boys

What’s to come, and what could’ve been.  Recorded across two different sessions – as told by the title, one in the 80s, with Fugazi-er Brendan Canty on drums and sans Johnny Temples, and one in the 90s, bringing in Temple and subbing in Alexis Fleisig on drums – this six song EP was, I’d imagine, interesting and promising for anyone following Soul Side or Fugazi at the time, but I’d venture to say that it’s more enjoyable in retrospect, with the sexy, swaggering, double-bass thumped discography of GVSB to compare it to.

The three ’90s’ tracks, featuring the classic lineup, are solid, verging on great; though certainly more in the DC Dischord rock vibe than their big three Touch and Go albums, the sense of groove and beat is already heftily backed up by Temple and Fleisig, and vocalist Scott McCloud’s raspy croon is there, chanting vague threats or purring menacingly on the down-tempo Kitty-Yo.  While none of these hit as hard as some of the singles on Venus Luxure, it’s undoubtedly a band you want to listen to, and definitely want to see live.

The 80s stuff doesn’t fare nearly as well.  Perhaps influenced by the presence of Canty, McCloud is in more of a shouty mode – which is much less notable, and strips his repetitive lyrical style of the moodiness his more recognized style of singing brings – and the version of the group at that point went in for a clattring industrial beat.  This works pretty well on ‘Move,’ but when they start to bring in some cringey sample sounds on ‘Angels,’ it starts to sound pretty generic, and closer ‘Skind’ just plays itself out, not offering any nuance after its been through its shtick once or twice.

The relatively small amount of time between the two sessions, and the switcheroo of musicians, results in very different groups.  It’s curious to think what GVSB may have been if the Canty version had stayed intact… and it’s deeply satisfying to hear how easily this stuff just clicked from the get-go once the lineup we recognize was playing together.