Girl Band is creating music that is at times equally assaulting and rhythmic.
With Irish four-piece Girl Band making their return after a five-year hiatus, they join Daughters as the second group to reemerge from a not-so-distant era of music with an influx of guitar-bands with unGoogleable feminine names entirely made up of men. While their return is filled to the brim with fury, it doesn’t add all that much to the cacophonic dialogue being had in the brimming full world of modern post-punk.
“Prolix” opens The Talkies with two-minutes of pulsating synths and hyperventilating. “Going Norway” builds linearly from the initial, messy drums and lead singer Dara Kiely’s uncontrolled growl, adding in rough electronics, guitars, and bass—as the track goes on, the group interestingly and naturally picks points for the pressure of the song to rise and fall without it ever feeling predictable or senselessly chaotic. The song that follows, “Shoulderblades,” lethargically ebbs and flows with slithering grooves, low-frequency hums, and aggressively distorted guitars. The allusions to Edward Mordrake, a man born with a face on the back of his head, throughout this song gives probably the clearest insight into the lyrical themes of mental distress and discomfort presented by abstract and abstracted poetry Kiely yelps and pants through on The Talkies.
Both “Shoulderblades” and the next song “Couch Combover”—which begins as a trudging journey but halfway through absolutely erupts—are the two most danceable tracks on the first half of the album, with “Caveat” being the only other song on the entirety of the record that rivals their ability to throw one’s bodyweight around to. “Laggard” drowns listeners in harsh, whirling noise and is the most wholly brutal of the tracks on The Talkies that run past more than a few minutes, even if the final two and a half minutes of the song are maybe the most quiet on the whole album.
The two longest songs on the album both succeed in being immersive, nerve-wracking noise rock pieces. “Salmon of Knowledge” is more slowly paced, with a hypnotic and brooding atmosphere that never quite moves into full attack mode as most of the rest of the songs on the album do. “Prefab Castle” allows for time and space to work to dismantle the listener, moving through moments of quiet nervousness and raucous breakdowns.
There are only three real tracks on The Talkies that feel unessential—the first and last songs don’t really do enough to warrant their inclusion in this point. “Aibohphobia” is a relatively amorphous track with distant percussion really being the only thing that keeps listeners even somewhat close to the ground, but the repetitive structure of the song make its under three-minute runtime feel even a bit superfluous. The songs “Akineton” and “Amygdala” really just serve as brief interludes and opportunities for the band and Kiely to rabble nonsense in a drunken tone, which isn’t a bad thing, they simply don’t add much to the total experience.
Girl Band is creating music that is at times equally assaulting and rhythmic, oozing a loose, brutish spirit; however, with so many noisy, post-punk records coming out, it doesn’t quite feel like Girl Band is doing anything that places them above a flooded market. The Talkies is without a doubt worthwhile—the dissonance and overwhelming energy come together to create some infectious and cathartic pieces—but with it also comes a question of necessity.