Tuesday, March 12, 2013

REVIEW: Girls Names - The New Life

The New Life by Belfast's Girls Names presents brooding, cathartic rock exactly the way I want it hear it -- ten post-punk songs, exhilarating in their scope, sound and tempo.  Ten anthems to emotional dissonance and sonic depth.  The guitars' jangle is an icy slash, the percussion a thundering echo, the bass is relentless foreboding, and the vocals a minimally inflected baritone.  But most importantly, The New Life is a collection of great songs.  And while it may be a bit early in the year for this prediction to have much weight, it is for me the best album of the year so far.  There are musical touchstones for the listener -- a bit of New Order in the guitar, at bit of Joy Division in atmosphere, a bit of Crystal Stilts vocally.  But the manner in which is all comes together belongs only to Girls Names.

"Pittura Infamante", named after Renaissance defamatory painting, begins with a bass line, and then expands onto an icy sonic landscape.  Redemption, isolation or both? I can't really tell (although my vote would be the latter), but it is my favorite song on the album.

I suspect that frontman Cathal Cully is fully aware that if he had continued Girls Names in the vein of their debut album fans and critics would have had no complaint.  So there is a certain boldness in deciding that the first alum closed a chapter and that, in terms of expression, a new band would be born.  Fortunately for us, and the band, the risk was worth taking.

"Hypnotic Regression" is the second single from the album.  Marked by guitar reverberation and unsettled vocals, it is another highlight track.

Girls Names are Cathal Cully (guitars/vocals), Neil Brogan (drums), Claire Miskimmin (bass) and Philip Quinn (guitars/keyboards).  Brogan also has a fine project named Sea Pinks and Quinn also is a member of band Charles Hurts.

The New Life was available digitally on February 26.  It will be available in vinyl and CD on March 12 from Slumberland Records in the US and Tough Love Records in Europe.

Here is the latest SXSW schedule for the band:

03/11 - Northern Irish Music Showcase - Latitude 30 - 8:45pm
03/13 - Slumberland Records Showcase - The Iron Bear - 12:00am
03/14 - Under The Radar, Flamingo Cantina - 4:05pm
03/14 - KRTU - Flat Top Burger Shop - 6:00pm
03/15 - Waterloo Cycles - 5:15pm 

Slumberland Records
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Tough Love Records

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