Whether you've fallen in love with them or not, it's hard to deny that Girlpool are one of the most hyped bands of the year, and the fanfare is not undeserved.

With just one EP and a debut album released earlier this month, Girlpool's aggressive guitar riffs and astonishing vocal harmonies have already earned the band an international following. But in their short time on the global radar, Girlpool made drastic changes to their act. This week, Girlpool announced that the newest single from their debut album Before The World Was Big is 'Magnifying Glass', a thirty-six-second song that sounds like a nursery rhyme and serves as a short transitional interlude on the album. The music video reflects the band's whimsical nature, edited to look like a stop-motion animation, and it's refreshing to see them stray from the typical choice to release a more commercial song as a single. At the same time, though, the decision shows a lot about the band's evolution over the past year.

In November, Girlpool released their self-titled EP, a seven-song explosion complete with empowering lyrics and perfectly complementary musical offerings from the duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker. The Girlpool EP caught national attention, and Sini Anderson, the filmmaker behind Kathleen Hanna's documentary The Punk Singer, directed the video for 'Blah Blah Blah', an angry anthem against unattentive partners. The EP also features tracks like 'Slutmouth', which seeks to erase stigma around women's promiscuity, and 'Jane', in which a girl named Jane punches a boy named Tommy in the mouth after he disrespects her. The band's first major release, Girlpool makes a statement that urges for female empowerment.

Before The World Was Big is tame in tone compared to the Girlpool EP. Before The World Was Big explores the challenges of transitioning into adulthood, a logical choice in subject matter from the eighteen- and nineteen-year-old artists. In other words, while Girlpool is defined by anger, the debut album is soft and introspective, as Tividad and Tucker cherish their final moments as teenagers before being forced to fully embrace the challenges of adult life.

It makes sense that the tone of Girlpool's music has changed - they're still a young band trying to figure out their sound. What's interesting, though, is the lengths at which Girlpool have gone to move past their initial punk-inspired, riotous image. For the past several months, Girlpool have stopped playing nearly all of the songs from their EP, and when they play 'Paint Me Colors', they amend their lyrics to be less politically-charged. The lyric, "I'll never understand what it means to be a man/who is white, 'cause he never has to fight," becomes "I'll never know what it's like to be/anyone else but me."

Though their sound is continuously evolving, why should Girlpool back down from expressing their beliefs? Especially after Sleater-Kinney's recent reunion and Kathleen Hanna's book release Girl in a Band, there has been a major emphasis on gender. But there's a fine line between honoring and commodifying music's most empowered women. Here's the classic example: why call Girlpool, Chastity Belt, and Sleater-Kinney all-female bands when no one calls The Strokes or Palma Violets all-male bands? No band wants to be pigeonholed based on their gender identity, but it's still important to acknowledge that bands like Girlpool explore dire women's issues in their music. It seems strange for them to completely eradicate their political slant between their EP and debut album, especially when the EP boomed so quickly.

Girlpool's development as a band didn't occur over night, though - songs like 'Cherry Picking', 'Emily', and 'Chinatown' from Before The World Was Big were written before Girlpool had even been released. Though these songs don't push feminist ideals forward in as obvious as a way as 'Slutmouth' or 'Paint Me Colors', they still promote self-acceptance; in 'Chinatown', Tividad and Tucker harmonize to sing, "If I loved myself, would I take it the wrong way?" Perhaps Girlpool are growing in a way that gives them more versatility. If they can pull off solemn, pensive songs and loud, confrontational anthems to express themselves in different ways, then there's no telling what magic the second album will hold.

The band's two dichotomous directions are both solid, though - Girlpool and Before The World Was Big are each strong releases, showing off Girlpool's natural command over their sound. But by reassessing their identity as a band after their EP's success and releasing a thirty-six second song as a single, it almost seems like Girlpool are trying to delay their success - it's easier to imagine promoting themselves with a three-minute track than a thirty-six-second jingle.

Maybe Girlpool are trying to remind us that commercial recognition isn't the end goal of a band's musical career. Maybe they want to take time to explore what their band can do, rather than jump straight into headlining a world tour. Tividad and Tucker seem to want to learn more about themselves as people, musicians, and collaborators before the world becomes big - and for that, there's a lot of respect to be had for Girlpool.