MICHELE NORRIS, host: Girls is the name of a rock band that, in fact, includes no girls. Their eclectic sound, however, includes a wide range of rock styles and our critic, Will Hermes, thinks their latest effort is one of the year's best rock records.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAYING I LOVE YOU")
GIRLS: (Singing) How can I say I want you, now that you've said I want you. Now that you've said everything I said to you to somebody new.
WILL HERMES: Christopher Owens has a bit of the provocateur in him, always a good thing in a rock star, especially at a time when rock music has a seriously dwindling market share. His group's debut single, which came out in 2009, was titled "I Need a Boyfriend," which Owens has said was meant more figuratively than literally.
The new Girls album is titled "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" and if you're guessing it's a tell-all about his upbringing in the so-called religious cult called the Children of God, you would be incorrect. But back story aside, it's an extraordinary record, especially its first single, which Owens titled also more figuratively than literally, "Vomit."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOMIT")
GIRLS: (Singing) (Unintelligible)
HERMES: As far as I can tell, "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" is an album about secular love, historically the topic of numerous rock scriptures. And rock history is definitely on Christopher Owens' mind, from the "Dark Side of the Moon" style, organ swells and gospel vocals of "Vomit" to the wicked surf guitar riffs on the song "Honey Bunny."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HONEY BUNNY")
GIRLS: (Singing) I know you're out there. You might be right around the corner and you'll be the girl that I love.
HERMES: To the searing guitar jams on the simply titled "Die," which was inspired by a Fleetwood Mac song from that band's early days as a psychedelic blues-rock outfit.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIE")
HERMES: The new Girls album comes at a time when lots of indie rock acts are looking backwards towards various eras for inspiration and the component parts are familiar. But "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" is more than a flashback machine partly because Christopher Owens, somewhat like the late Amy Winehouse, puts a modern spin on his gender-dodging lyrics and his delivery, which has a very 21st century sense of desperation about it.
It's also because his sound, soulfulness, melodies and provocations are simply more compelling than those of most of his peers. It's rock that feels transformative rather than recycled and, these days, that's something very special.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NORRIS: The band is called Girls. Their new album is "Father, Son, Holy Ghost." Our critic is Will Hermes.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MYMA")
GIRLS: (Singing) Oh God, I'm tired and my heart...
NORRIS: This is NPR News.