Published Sep 25, 2019In November 2018, Dublin-based quartet Girl Band moved into Ballintubbert House to record the slowburn noise rock they have become known for and, as guitarist Alan Duggan described, "make an audio representation of the house." Much like this spacious, alienating building that Girl Band try zealously to put into music, their second full-length The Talkies is both shocking and larger than life, but also has its moments of emptiness.
Taking a similar approach to their chaotic and dissonant 2015 debut, Holding Hands With Jamie, Girl Band are back to experiment once again with reverberating drums and static droning. On this front, they have really upped the ante: From the anxious deep breathing apparent in the opening interlude "Prolix" until the end, The Talkies is bound to give listeners the chilling feeling of being trapped in a dark, expansive cave.
That unsettling vibe is quite well-established, but works better on some tracks more than others. "Shoulderblades" has a gradual descent into an earth-shattering experimental breakdown, not unlike something you'd hear from Death Grips, but the immensity and impressiveness of its industrial buildup puts that of the following track, "Couch Combover," to comparative shame.
More than anything else, the album comes together by following the thread of Dara Kiely's voice, which alters from distant and contemplative to loud and brutal with the snap of a finger. On "Amygdala," Kiely's passion and conviction feel palpable as he whines, wails, snarls and screams.
Having only a few minor setbacks, The Talkies is an exciting new addition to Girl Band's discography with its refinement of their sonorous experimental punk style and its ability to stay intensely enthralling, avoiding repetition. Getting deeper and darker than ever before on The Talkies, it will be interesting to see what Girl Band do next. (Rough Trade)