Girls: Father, Son, Holy Ghost (True Panther Sounds) 

Despite an oeuvre that is dedicated to heartache, Girls' mastermind Christopher Owens has released some of the most-spiritual pop music of this young century.

Like Van Morrison before him, Owens stretches a word or phrase on Father, Son, Holy Ghost over endless incantations, shaping its meaning from transitory to revelatory. Everything from the album's title to Owens' reason for naming a sprawling, Procol Harum-cum-Deep Purple tune "Vomit" (it comes from a Biblical proverb) indicates that Owens is actively courting the spiritual.

If "spirituality" serves as a synonym for "all-encompassing," then Girls' stunning sophomore release makes even more sense, serving as a musical history that encapsulates everything from gospel to glam. Whether it's the galloping surf rock of "Honey Bunny," or the throttled psychedelics of "Die," it's always enthralling. There are few artists out there making tunes like "Just a Song" (indeed!), which balances sparkling Spanish flamenco, a steely dirge and ethereal British folk.

The album's final moments are its most unimpeachable. The neo-gospel shimmy of penultimate track "Love Like a River" is a contender for song of the year, with Owens' thin, warbling vocals perfectly conveying angst and resignation over soulful backup singers, organ rolls and prickly guitar figures. Meanwhile, the closer, "Jamie Marie," is a delicate, searching song whose wintery guitar lines and quietly hushed vocal readings bleed into a groovy honky-tonk denouement.

The largesse of Owens' musical mind makes this album a remarkable, near-sacrosanct document.

More by Michael Petitti


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