by Nik Soelter
Religious Girls are a band of contradictions. On the one hand, their albums are serious - composed over long stretches of time, with meticulous attention to detail and densely layered arrangements, while on the other, the bands online persona is often shrouded in irony and self-deprecating humor.
Their art is angular, fractal, and modern, but other times, intentionally recalls early aughts vaporwave, like a digitally rendered Monster Energy can that reads, “Religious Girls: Pure Energy”. The music is emotional, but not so vulnerable that they would actually commit to lyrics (in our interview, vocalist Christopher Danko says “each song contains the lyrics "ooooh" "ahhh" "oh" "yo", "yoo" "mmmbop" and maybe a "meow"). The band is a continuous experiment in how to make dark, serious music without losing your sense of humor.
Their most recent album, 2017’s Pure Energy, is the groups first in more than four years. Recorded mostly in Brooklyn during 2014, the trio, who have since paired down to the duo of Danko and Nicholas Cowman, spent the next several years making adjustments in Oakland. Across 6 songs and 40 minutes, the band haven’t missed a beat. They invent their own universe across it’s sprawling tracks, with almost drumline esque percussion juxtaposed against ambient tones.
Today we’re premiering their video for “Power Pt. 2,” a euphoric onslaught of polyrhythms and emotive synths that recalls the inventive indie of the early aughts. Impressive drum fills backdrop hypnotic melodies, and over time the group find calm in the center of this chaos, only to tear it all down moments later, concluding the track with a stop-start, free-jazz freakout.
The video was shot in the now shuttered San Francisco Armory, a massive, maze-like structure where until last fall, Kink.com was headquartered. Directed by Danko, the video is a perfect example of the band pitting a serious live performance, complete with 3D rendered fractals and overlapping shots, against playful images of the group standing astride both a dirtbike and a full on jet ski that they hauled down into the Armory’s depths.
Check it out below, and read this writers interview with the band where we discuss the video, Pure Energy’s recording process, future collaborations, and what it takes to sustain a long term project like Religious Girls.