Gigi (2), Maintenant
A loving, modern-day recreation of girl-group pop, sweet as a chocolate malt with nary a wink to be found
When you're a teenager in love, certain emotions feel like they were invented just for you. The rush of a first kiss. The loneliness of pining for a crush who doesn't like you back. The tearstained-pillow melancholy of a freshly-broken heart. In the 1960s, no one articulated this hormone-fueled agony and ecstasy better than Phil Spector, who produced a hit parade of perfect pop songs that filled jukeboxes and AM radio with the sounds of young love and loss, punctuated by plenty of "oohs" and "ahs" and "whoas".
It's in this spirit that songwriter Nick Krgovich of Vancouver-based band No Kids and producer Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Destroyer) formed Gigi, a project that calls on a whole new generation of musicians to emulate the best of the '60s pop sound, all reverb and earnestness. With lyrics straight out of the Brill Building , Gigi boasts a chorale that specializes in shimmering girl group harmonies (on glorious display in the stunner "Some Second Best") and guest vocalists that are a veritable who's who of indie rockers — from Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls to Mirah and Karl Blau — with a flair for the retro.
Rose Melberg of the Softies sings of loving a bad boy in the sweetly plaintive "Alone at the Pier": "Just because I unplugged the jukebox and stopped listening to ’96 Tears'/Does not mean I won't be crying all alone at the pier." Katie Eastburn of Young People details, in a "Girl From Ipanema" knockoff, "The Marquee," the dejection of being stood up for a movie date: "At the gate I wait 'neath the marquee/that brightly reads From Here to Eternity/which is about how long I've been here waiting." Owen Pallet (formerly known as Final Fantasy) shrugs off any hint of affectation in favor of heartfelt sincerity as he portrays perhaps the loneliest character ever in "I'll Quit," moaning, "Even my mother won't give me the what for."
Gigi is as sweet as a chocolate malt, mostly because the musicians' reverence for straightforward '60s pop is evident in every song, every arrangement, every performance — there is nary an ironic wink or a pretentious flourish to be found. It's a loving tribute to more innocent times when even songs about broken hearts could sound sunny, as if your sorrows could be healed simply by sipping a cherry coke from the soda fountain and playing that perfect track on the jukebox.