Posts Tagged ‘The Talkies’

The Talkies is Girl Band’s follow-up album to their ground breaking 2015 debut “Holding Hands with Jamie”. The Talkies is living, breathing, in a continual state of metamorphosis. It encompasses everything there is to love about Girl Band while simultaneously causing an exciting level of discomfort. The moaning and sawing guitars, atonal blankets of sound, abstractive lyrical repetition, chugging snare and ascending / descending snakes and ladders noise-rock guitar deliver something that is so distinctively Girl Band. The album opens to unsteady breathing. Slow at first, unwanted and out of time. Breathing shallows and discomfort deepens over the sustained heartbeat of a soon to be familiar A chord. This is Dara’s breath, this is his panic, a momentary, one-off lapse of control recorded and transmuted into a rhythmic, off-beat moment of disquiet to unlock Girl Band’s crucial yet quietly anticipated second album: The Talkies.

Following arguably the sweetest vocal melody lead singer Dara Kiely has ever sung on record, his voice momentarily offers an ominous hint before sharply metamorphosing into a feral and incomprehensible bark at the climax of “Laggard”. His distressed calls of “What a total cod” are the brutal culmination of a track that feverishly toys with volume, and turbulently snakes through wailing, siren-like guitars; piercing rimshot rhythms; and furious blasts of percussion and bass.

The impact of these sudden sonic shifts are greatly enhanced by Girl Band’s emphasis on groove, atmosphere and patience on The TalkiesIt allows the four-piece to consistently beguile and wrong-foot their audience. Consequently, it makes The Talkies a rather disconcerting listen, as one never truly knows what to expect next from the four-piece. “Salmon of Knowledge”, for example, swells with noise and pained screams before reverting back to a soft groove. Lead single, “Shoulderblades” contorts itself through varying passages of tumultuous noise, as Kiely’s barbed howls are later framed by disquieting demands for silence.

Whilst several tracks tease the listener and build tension without ever truly releasing the pressure valve, others viciously combust. “Prefab Castle” gently builds with a glitched riff before fracturing itself into multiple nightmarish motifs. Technically reminiscent of a cinematic fast-cut, these motifs rapidly cycle and then reconstitute themselves into a devastating techno—inspired groove. Similarly, “Going Norway”, spontaneously accelerates with a vocal melody akin to “Pears For Lunch” from Girl Band’s debut, Holding Hands with Jamie.The humorous “Couch Combover” also finds Kiely manically erupting, declaring that a figure “Gave birth to a fax machine” amongst chaotic guitars.

The production greatly adds to the atmosphere conjured on the The Talkies. Inspired by Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” and the backwards dialogue of Twin Peaks’ infamous red-room sequences, “Aibohphobia” constructs a dense soundscape of palindromes and reversed instrumentation, which later obliterates itself with coarse rumbling bass.

Furthermore, the splicing of multiple recordings from the different rooms of Ballintubbert House, where Girl Band recorded the majority of their second record, thrusts the listener within the heart of the stately home. The sonics allow the listener to metaphorically voyage through its corridors, while the band perform the record as if they were performance artists within an exhibition. Instruments and vocals organically move from striking intimacy to distant and ambient, creating a unique world for the listener to explore.

For example, the excellent “Caveat” initially finds Kiely’s vocals up-close and clear. There is an intense sense of intimacy and one can imagine standing directly in front of Kiely and feeling his breath as he drawls, “Scale electric/Vampyroteuthis”. As we then explore the bowels of Ballintubbert House, Kiely’s vocals become distant and almost lost within the mix. His screams repurpose themselves as haunting reverberations through the corridors of the stately home, as we reposition ourselves to witness drummer Adam Faulkner furiously striking hi-hats to piercing effect.

There is a juxtaposition to be found within The Talkieswhich makes it a fascinating listen. Thematically and sonically, the Irish quartet’s second record is a coherent record, but it is also persistently engulfed by the psychopathology and sequelae of psychosis – a state where one can (dependent on the severity of the psychosis) present as entirely incoherent.

With pronouns purposefully avoided, Kiely placed emphasis on the weight of words and sounds, when assembling the lyrics for the twelve tracks found on The TalkiesThis device warps words to the point of unfamiliarity and language to the point of abstraction. Yet, whether intentional or not, Kiely’s lyrics mirror the psychiatric phenomenon of formal thought disorder. The words when visualised resemble word salad and over the course of the record there is evidence of neologisms (“guilloti-eenager” in “Laggard”); clang associations (“Mechanical Boil, Ball, Boil, Bull, Ball” in “Going Norway”); and perseveration of language (the repeated “Y in the Byrds” found in “Salmon of Knowledge”).

Additionally, the drum-rolls and abrasive screams of “Amygdala” feel apt for a track named after the area of the brain key in the processing of emotion (in particular, fear). Likewise, “Akineton” is the trade-name of Biperiden, a medication used to treat a side-effect commonly associated with anti-psychotics – akathisia (the subjective feeling of inner restlessness). Its racing guitars and fidgeting electronics mimic that restlessness. These shorter tracks therefore are not just filler and augment the possible narrative woven throughout the record.

The Talkies is a devastating and jaw-dropping record that provokes awe and anxiety in equal measure. Although there are elements throughout the record that are ‘quintessentially’ Girl Band, The Talkies builds upon these elements and makes a vast leap sonically and narratively with the aid of unrestrained experimentation. There is a definitive artistic expression found on The Talkies and frankly it should be a late contender for any albums of the decade list.

*blue vinyl available the Rough Trade Records webstore and indie retailers. Numbered and signed postcards, documenting our time recording the album, come free with pre-orders exclusively from the Rough Trade Records webstore

Girl Band new album The Talkies

Girl Band have announced a new album. The Irish post-punk/noise rock group will release “The Talkies” on September 27th via Rough Trade Records. It’s their first new album in four years, and the first single they’ve released is titled “Shoulderblades,”  The album was recorded at Ballintubbert House, an estate built in the 1700s just outside of Dublin, and produced by bassist Daniel Fox.

“In many ways the idea behind the album was to make an audio representation of the house,” guitarist Alan Duggan said in a press release. The Talkies follows 2015′s Holding Hands With Jamie.

Taken from Girl Band’s second album ‘The Talkies’, out 27th September on Rough Trade Records