In the interest of full disclosure, I must reveal that I have not watched a single episode of the popular HBO series “Girls.” I’m aware of the show’s existence of course. The creator and star of the series Lena Dunham has been honored by multiple awards shows for her work, and has appeared time and again on various other programs, where she has been interviewed regarding the show and its content. However, I still haven’t hopped aboard this particular television bandwagon. But now I may have found a reason to do so.
Featuring songs by such bands as Tegan & Sara, Fleet Foxes, The Troggs and more, Girls – Volume 1: Music From The HBO Original Series has been dubbed the “musical companion” to the series, whose second season recently debuted on January 13. Opening with the track “Dancing On My Own” by the Swedish dance-pop artist Robyn, the release is an instant immersion into the world of not just fictional female twentysomethings, but also a certain pop culture swimming pool that prides itself on diverse musical taste and a good time in equal measure.
“Music is such a huge part of my creative process,” Dunham says in the press materials that accompany the album. “I make playlists to write by and listen to as I head to set in the morning, and I experiment in editing with songs that the characters would love and that accurately reflect their struggles. “Girls’” music supervisor Manish Raval and I are crazy about everything from the pop that teen girls devour to the niche indie rock from days of yore.”
Such non-discriminating taste shows in the way Volume 1 unfolds from one number to the next. The anthem-like “Girls” by reggae fusion artist Santigold appears just a few slots before the delicate indie pop of Belle & Sebastian, and elsewhere the piano-based musings of singer and songwriter Michael Penn is preceded by the even sparser piano ballad “Love is Won” by Hudson Valley artist Lia Ices (aka Lia Kessel).
When listened to as a whole, the cumulative effect of such a record is akin to the experience of listening to a friend’s mix-tape. Sure not every track will resonate upon first playback, but each surprise levied by the inclusion of songs like “With a Girl Like You,” “Montezuma” and even a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Fool To Cry,” is worth the experience. Plus you might even learn something. But first you have to push play to understand.