Return to Girl In A Coma


ARTIST: Girl In A Coma - [Album]
DATE: 08-08-08

REVIEW BY: Bill Adams
ALBUM: Both Before I\\\'m Gone
LABEL: Blackheart

Ever wonder what it’d sound like if Canadian critical darling Neko Case spontaneously decided to make a rock n’ roll record? It’ll probably never happen (well, not outside of The New Pornographers), but happily we have the closest possible approximation in Girl In A Coma. On their debut album, Both Before I’m Gone, sisters Nina and Phanie Diaz, along with bassist Jenn Alva, take the tremolo rich vocals of Case and British mope king Morrissey (the band name is also a reference to The Smiths’ song “Girlfriend In A Coma”) and run it over with the textural treads of The Constantines to arrive at a sound that isn’t exactly punk, isn’t exactly indie and isn’t exactly alt-country, but incorporates elements of all of those and a few more gloriously unclassifiable sounds.

The combination of those influences leaves Girl In A Coma peerless in the realm of modern rock. From Nina Diaz’ initial coo in “Clumsy Sky,” the band casts a hypnotic spell that will ensnare anyone within earshot and cause them to begin twitching spastically as soon as the tempo picks up and, by the second chorus, they’ve coerced the whole crowd into dancing.

From there, the band elects to present themselves as a wholly unusual beast and tests the waters to see how far they can push what they’ve started. Elements of cabaret (not unlike The Dresden Dolls), classic alt-rock (similar to Sleater-Kinney) and girlish dirty shirt blues (not too far from Gossip) all manifest in songs like “Say,” “Road To Home,” “Sybil Vane Was Ill,” “Mr. Chivalry” and “Race Car Driver” thus giving the impression that Girl In A Coma is throwing everything it can think of at the wall to see what sticks but the band is redeemed by the fact that, after every dalliance, they always come back to center and don’t get lost in their own experimentations.

Perhaps without even knowing or trying, Girl In A Coma has managed to do something that is incredibly rare in modern rock: while the group’s influences are the portrait of simplicity to pick out in the music, they’ve come up with a sound that is original and uniquely their own by just being themselves and letting that individuality be the central, dominating creative force in their music. Listeners will be able to pick it apart endlessly but, if you try not to dissect it and take it as it is, you won’t be able to miss the beauty of it.