close icon

what are you looking for?

close icon

badges you can earn


earn editorial badges by uploading a number of stories.
  • 1
    writer
  • 10
    senior writer
  • 20
    sub - editor
  • 50
    editor
close icon

Sign Up


use your university email address to create your account.

Username already exists, please use another email address.

Please ensure all fields aren't empty









 
  • Please Select
  • Abertay University
  • Aberystwyth University
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Anglo-European College of Chiropractic
  • Arden University
  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • Ashridge Executive Education
  • Aston University
  • Bangor University
  • Bath Spa University
  • Birkbeck University of London
  • Birmingham City University
  • Bishop Grosseteste University
  • Bournemouth University
  • BPP University
  • British School of Osteopathy
  • Brunel University
  • Bucks New University
  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Cardiff University
  • City, University of London
  • Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Coventry University
  • Cranfield University
  • De Montfort University
  • Durham University
  • Edge Hill University
  • Edinburgh Napier University
  • European School of Economics
  • Falmouth University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Glasgow School of Art
  • Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • Harper Adams University
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • Heythrop College, University of London
  • Imperial College London
  • Keele University
  • King's College London
  • Kingston University
  • Lancaster University
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Leeds College of Art
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • Liverpool Hope University
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • London Business School
  • London Metropolitan University
  • London School of Economics and Political Science
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • London South Bank University
  • Loughborough University
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Middlesex University
  • Newcastle University
  • Newman University, Birmingham
  • Northumbria University
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Plymouth College of Art
  • Plymouth Marjon University
  • Plymouth University
  • Queen Margaret University
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • Regent's University London
  • Robert Gordon University
  • Rose Bruford College
  • Royal Academy of Music
  • Royal Agricultural University
  • Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • Royal College of Art
  • Royal College of Music
  • Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Royal Northern College of Music
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • School of Advanced Study
  • Scotland's Rural College
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • SOAS, University of London
  • Southampton Solent University
  • St George's, University of London
  • St Mary's University, Twickenham
  • Staffordshire University
  • Swansea University
  • Teesside University
  • The American International University in London
  • The London Institute of Banking & Finance
  • The Open University
  • The University of Law
  • Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
  • Ulster University
  • University College Birmingham
  • University College London
  • University College of Estate Management
  • University for the Creative Arts
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Bath
  • University of Bedfordshire
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bolton
  • University of Bradford
  • University of Brighton
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Buckingham
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • University of Chester
  • University of Chichester
  • University of Cumbria
  • University of Derby
  • University of Dundee
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of East London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Essex
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Gloucestershire
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Hull
  • University of Kent
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Lincoln
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Northampton
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Portsmouth
  • University of Reading
  • University of Roehampton
  • University of Salford
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of South Wales
  • University of Southampton
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Stirling
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Suffolk
  • University of Sunderland
  • University of Surrey
  • University of Sussex
  • University of the Arts
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
  • University of the West of England
  • University of the West of Scotland
  • University of Wales
  • University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • University of Warwick
  • University of West London
  • University of Westminster
  • University of Winchester
  • University of Wolverhampton
  • University of Worcester
  • University of York
  • Wrexham Glyndwr University
  • Writtle University College
  • York St John University

By creating an account you agree to the uni news Terms and Conditions, and agree to receive marketing communications.

close icon

subscribe to uni news


get the latest articles straight to your inbox.

Girlpool and transitioning: "Before the World Was Big"

Cleo Tucker—of Indie/Folk-Grunge outfit Girlpool—recently transitioned to a trans-man, creating an interesting new dichotomy for their music.

This is exciting news with the upcoming release of their third album, "What Chaos is Imaginary", in February. If the elegant, sweeping single—"Where You Sink"—is anything to go by, it will hopefully bring together the delicate melodies of the first record and the upgraded, electric set-up of the second.

Tucker's transition is significant because Girlpool's earlier work is characterised by the duo of Tucker and Harmony Tividad's sweet, falsetto harmonies gliding over DIY, folky guitar riffs. However, Tucker's register as a trans-man is lower now, and one wonders what this will mean for their sound.

Anticipating the album made me nostalgic for their first record—"Before the World Was Big." An album that is, without a doubt, one of my favourites of all time. And, by its very nature, an album that they couldn't make today. It's an album that I don't think gets enough credit for providing something different than what we'd come to expect from guitar music.

From the start of the album, the paralysingly simple riff of "Ideal World" conjures up pleasant phantoms of adolescence, perfectly capturing the essence of youthful idealism. Tividad and Tucker were apparently still in High School at the time, and it shows through in the best way. The authenticity of their sound can be heard in the title track, “Before the World Was Big,” which is so simple as to seem almost discordant. The opening wind-chime effect and the blunt, playful riff becomes a cooing. The listener feels like a child in daycare. As its title suggests, there is an Eden-like sense of life as 'yet to come.'

Tucker and Tividad formed Girlpool when they were still in High School.

The music is guitar and bass-driven, which leaves room to create delightful soundscapes from the band's charming, high-pitched vocals. There’s a lo-fi simplicity paired with unpretentious wonder that you don't often see in the indie scene. For me, the high-point is the fifth track—"Cherry Picking"—which rises from a muted riff to a sweeping choral refrain. In this, the lyrics are, for me, at their most cryptic and succinct—"yes I am picking cherries, I have a hard time staying clean"—and also their most pretty.

The album, however great, is not without flaws. "Magnifying Glass"the bombastic interlude between album highlights "Cherry Picking" and "Crowded Stranger"—is superfluous at best, and slightly jarring at worst. Lead single, “Chinatown,” has also always felt more boring to me than cute compared to the rest of the album. Because of this, it’s not a masterpiece. But, the reason I still love it years later is not a collection of songs, nor, exactly, a musical style. It's a palpable feeling.

The final track, "I Like That You Can See It", reads almost like a mission statement for the album. "Is it pouring out my body? My nervous aching. I like that you can see it,”—summing up the openness and vulnerability of their gentle approach to life on the record. Arguing that wearing one's heart on one’s sleeve is admirable. And empowering.

"Before the World Was Big" will always be an important album for me. I can listen to it and instantly feel eighteen again. Because of the concrete feeling of two high-school kids jamming in a bedroom, I maintain that the album could not be recreated today without great effort. And why, indeed, would they want to?

The fact that Cleo, as a trans-man, can no longer hit the notes of parts of earlier work even further reflects this. It seems to expand in-metaphor on the album's subject matter: you're only eighteen once. Cleo's transition and new vocal range, add a fresh layer to a singularly individual band that I've been following for years. I will continue to follow them and, frankly, I can't wait to hear what comes next. 

Featured image: Gina Canavan

Comments