Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: The Fluid (and Velvety) Songwriting of SadGirl

Douglas Martin's rock music column returns with a look at the vaguely Lynchian Los Angeles trio.
By    June 19, 2019

Help Douglas Martin buy a new pair of shoes to get messed up. Please support Passion of the Weiss by subscribing to our Patreon.

Douglas Martin would rather grow almonds with that water.

Los Angeles band SadGirl have been gesturing toward the sound coursing through Water for years, it just had to be purified a bit. The three-piece — heavily inspired by both an imagined and very real California left out in the sun for decades — contained dirty ocean water in their veins and evoked 50’s rock and roll balladry since they were formed, even covering an early Elvis Presley stunner for a 2016 single. (Elvis was a hero to most, but– you know the rest. I can’t deny “Someone Else’s Skin” is a super good song, though.)

Since riding waves with the kind of rock and roll music of a certain vintage that would have been a Dirty Shoe-in had their tunes been released four or five years prior, SadGirl’s music became increasingly clearer and more crystalline. After a heavy handful of surf-punk, sock hop jams, and lo-fi ballads borne out of the smoke filling the North Carolina lounge where Isabella Rossellini sang “Blue Velvet,” the band’s Suicide Squeeze debut easily coasts through clear blue skies while staying in lineage with their 1950’s forebears. It’s not of much coincidence Water contains a song titled “Mullholland.”

“Breakfast for 2” is a sequel to an early SadGirl single, the “come home” call to a lost lover. “Chlorine” is a character-driven ballad about a big fish in a small pond, opener “The Ocean” is Suicide scrubbed free of that knife-wielding New York danger, the album’s title track closer carries a whiff of Warren Zevon in the Pacific-bound air. The chorus of “Miss Me” is followed by “with the bullshit,” a lament of a relationship not being worth what we always think relationships will turn out when they’re new. The songs written on Water¬†are about running away (by oneself or with another person) to somewhere different; a new home, a new frame of existence, a place where someone used to be, sailing along a body of water somewhere.

It’s extremely difficult to watch the cresting waves and choppy surface of water and not think about where else it can take you. It’s an easy image to get lost in. Water isn’t necessarily the soundtrack for doing such a thing, but rather the soundtrack for those thoughts.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!