Apr 16, 2021
By Matthew Berlyant
When Share the Joy came out in April 2011, it was at an interesting time in the career of Vivian Girls. By that point, they’d released two prior albums, a live album, and a plethora of 7-inch singles that musically were along the same lines—short, fast, noisy, yet ultra-melodic punk influenced equally by early Wipers and songwriters like Brian Wilson and Burt Bacharach. Though their previous album, 2009’s Everything Goes Wrong, showed developing song structures and longer guitar interludes courtesy of singer/guitarist Cassie Ramone, this album is where they really started to do something different.
After starting the first 30 seconds of opening track “The Other Girls” in their old style, they then throw a switcheroo, slowing down the pace of the song considerably and setting the stage for what’s to come. The songs on here, their third album overall and first for current label Polyvinyl (which reissued this album along with their first two albums back in 2019) are by and large a little longer, moodier, and yet more overtly pop-influenced (in the ’60s sense) than any of their previous work. It’s telling that Neil Young emerged as a notable influence on Ramone’s songs during this time.
Another factor that made it stand out is that this is their only album with drummer Fiona Campbell, giving it a different feel than any of their other work. However, despite all this, their best set of songs up to that point, and great videos for singles “I Heard You Say” and “Take It As It Comes,” the album confused some fans and slipped under many radars, leading to several years of inactivity (during which time Ramone launched a solo career and bassist Katy Goodman continued making similarly great records with her project La Sera) followed by their eventual breakup in 2014 and successful reunion tour and album in 2019. Ten years after its initial release, it remains just as powerful as ever, timeless songwriting balanced by haunting background vocals and intricate guitar work, and due to the success of the reunion, hopefully appreciated more today. If not, it most definitely should be.