Girl Band

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Holding Hands with Jamie (2015), 7/10
The Talkies (2019), 6.5/10
Most Normal (2022), 5.5/10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Ireland's quartet Girl Band, fronted by vocalist Dara Kiely and guitarist Alan Duggan, debuted with the EP France 98 (2012) and a bunch of singles, including the six-minute Pere Ubu-ian "modern dance" of Lawman (2014), The Cha Cha Cha (2014) and De Bom Bom (2014), that were later collected on the EP The Early Years (2015) together with a cover of Blawan's Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage.

The first album, Holding Hands with Jamie (Rough Trade, 2015), is an essay in matching the cohesive with the abrasive in the vein of noise-rock of the 1990s. Umbongo opens with Duggan's guitar imitating the riff of the Tornados' Telstar while drummer Adam Faulkner unleashes a quasi-grindcore bombardment, and ends with a wall of distortion. The catastrophic crescendo of Pears For Lunch takes off and enters a Neu-ian orbit. Baloo, the album's standout, is an industrial voodoo dance that arises from a mad mash-up of Pere Ubu and the Cramps. A close second is the seven-minute Paul, another propulsive song that sounds like a jam between the Fall and Neu, just more savage, and that explodes in Boredoms-ian chaos. A third bout of hysteria materializes in the frenzied tribal exorcism of The Witch Dr. Meanwhile, the album has served the damaged ballad In Plastic, the childish round dance of Texting An Alien and the punk missile The Last Riddler. The eight-minute mutating suite Fucking Butter (a recitation over chaotic instrumental noise) sounds like a lengthy variation on their single Lawman. Faulkner's drumming is the real protagonist of the album.

The Talkies (Rough Trade, 2019) does not pack the same power. Kiely sounds verbose even by the standards of Mark E Smith of the Fall (the singer he most closely resembles) in songs like Going Norway and Salmon Of Knowledge. Sonic madness devours the rationale for Couch Combover and Aibohphobia sounds like a lost Syd Barrett lullaby. The combination of psychotic recitation and alien soundscape in songs like Amygdela is located somewhere between Pere Ubu and Jesus Lizard. Gone, instead, is gone the rocket propulsion of the first album, replaced by more complex concepts, like the gallop of Caveat under manic shouting and distortion. The seven-minute Prefab Castle begins in psychedelic languor but then picks up industrial fervor until it collapses in a swamp of atonal guitars. The quartet's interplay shines in the six-minute Shoulderblades, in which the singer's insane ranting collides with protracted industrial-grade noise until it is swallowed in a dark cold furnace; but also in the brief instrumental interlude Akineton, a peak of cinematic genius that unfortunately is left unfinished. This second album is generally more competent than the first one, particularly in the guitar parts, and the drumming is less furious but more intellectual. The vocals remain a mixed blessing. Not much of a singer, Kiely mostly speaks and shouts. Then, again, this is not music for pop crooners or opera tenors.

They changed name to Gilla Band and released Most Normal (Rough Trade, 2022), a generally noisier and more electronic album. The highlights are Backwash, a relatively catchy number (reminiscent of Einsturzende Neubauten), and Bin Liner Fashion, which rapidly escalates in pure hysteria. Parts of the album are recycled dance-punk (I was Away) and parts are just fashionable noise (The Gum, the first half of The Weirds).

(Copyright © 2019 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )