Growing up can suck in a lot of ways. You can get stuck in a crappy job or a crappy relationship. The things you thought were stable and secure turn out not to be that way. Sometimes, you can get down on yourself and not even know why. You can wonder if you’ll ever get your act together or make real connections with people.

These experiences — and the mix of confusion, despair and yearning that go with them — lie at the heart of Girlpools second long-player, Powerplant.

Not that Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker’s lyrics (both just barely of drinking age) make it too explicit — gone are the sass and raunch of their self-titled EP and the diary-entry angst of Before the World Was Big. Instead, you get stuff like this cryptic quatrain from “Kiss and Burn:”

Kiss and Burn

The closest that Powerplant comes to Girlpool’s old heart-on-their-sleeves clarity is in these lyrics from “Soup:”

Soup

Not very cheery. But at the same time, those lyrics offer a glimmer of hope. While Tividad and Tucker’s earlier songs centered exclusively on their points of view — they even included their names in “Dear Nora” — this one brings in somebody else’s perspective (i.e. the dad’s).

In fact, you can’t be sure that the kid in “Soup” is either Tividad or Tucker. That’s one of the upsides of maturity: You learn to appreciate the POVs of other people.

The music offers even more reason to hope. Tividad and Tucker sing and play with more nuance and assurance than ever before. With Miles Wintner’s drums providing steady support, their murmured vocals, melodic basslines and jangling guitar call to mind some of the base elements of Sonic Youth or My Bloody Valentine at times, before the knobs go to 11.

Powerplant‘s music is so expressive that the oblique lyrics feel more encouraging than ominous. It’s like the songs capture Tucker and Tividad as they learn to process new thoughts, feelings and experiences.

Like the dad in “Soup” says (if not necessarily to them), Girlpool has lots of potential. And on their sophomore LP, you hear them start to realize it.