San Francisco trio Grass Widow’s third full-length album, Internal Logic, is the first release on the band’s own label, HLR. The “H,” “L” and “R” are taken from the initials of band members Hannah Lew, Lillian Maring and Raven Mahon, who formed Grass Widow in the late 2000s and were formerly on Kill Rock Stars. Taking a happy departure from their previous album, Past Time, the ladies of Grass Window set out to create a set of songs that “feel good to play,” as Lew stated in a recent CMJ interview. That is evident, as Internal Logic bubbles with catchy hooks, choruses comprised entirely of “la la la” and spaceship-themed background noises, most prevalent on the album’s opening track, “Goldilocks Zone.”
While post-punk is the most obvious classification for Grass Widow’s sound, there are also nods to surf-rock (“Milo Minute”), gospel (“Under The Atmosphere”) and straight-up indie-rock (“Hang Around”). No matter what the genre, the harmoniously sweet combination of the trio’s vocals is what makes Internal Logic sparkle. Even though there are often melodies on top of melodies, they are never muddled or claustrophobic; instead they seem to reflect off of each other, opening up the musical space and creating a lightness that is in keeping with the cosmic theme. While this tactic is used on Grass Widow’s previous albums as well, on Internal Logic the overlapping feels less like interrupting backing vocals fighting for the lead and more like three equal parts of the same conversation. It is appropriate, then, that the album is titled Internal Logic, as that type of three-way inner monologue is exactly what it takes to create such balanced vocals on each track.
The only issue with that amount of cohesion is that all of the songs begin to blend together. If you’re not paying attention, it becomes tough to tell if you’ve been listening to one really long song or three separate ones. The only exception to this are the two tracks that completely depart from typical Grass Widow style; the acoustic Spanish guitar instrumental “A Light In The Static” and the album’s closing piano solo, “Response To Photographers.” These two blips don’t really seem to fit with the rest of the album, but they do offer new places for Lew, Maring and Mahon to lead their three-part talk toward in the future.