Release Date: Oct 2, 2015
Record label: Tough Love
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Girls Names last record The Next Life found itself situated among the upper echelons of many "Best Of" lists at the end of 2013. So the difficult question posed to the Belfast foursome would be "Where do we go from here?" For a band who've been busy honing their craft for the best part of a decade one could have forgiven them for continuing where they left off. Indeed, many lesser artists would having developed such a successful formula.
After throwing their fans for a loop by shifting their outlook from their first album's bright noise pop to their second's gloomy post-punk, Girls Names' third album doubles down on the somberness and despair, strips off a layer of studio gloss, and adds some tricky bits to the arrangements. Arms Around a Vision has a grittier feel and tougher sound, with jagged guitars and loud drums, while at the same time the band shows a more nuanced way of arranging the songs. The dynamic shifts within the songs are bracing, the differences in tone from song to song keep listeners guessing, and the subtleties in the arrangements are a definite step forward.
Girls Names vocalist Cathal Cully has called Iggy Pop's The Idiot an influential record during tough times. Knowing this, it's nearly impossible to hear Arms Around A Vision, the Belfast quartet's third record, without it evoking that dark classic. Besides from the recognizable baritone parallels between Bowie's contributions and Cully, the album shares a similar gloominess, despite danceable rhythms and distinct melodies.Compared to 2013's The New Life, Arms' guitar chords are more prominent and vigorous; "Take Out The Hand," "An Artificial Spring" and "Desire Oscillations" each rumble along until powerful, ranging choruses break the tension.
Clanging dissonance gives way to jangle-pop in "Reticence," the opener to the Irish post-punkers' second LP-a continuation down the shadowy path they took on The New Life. It sometimes sounds like Nick Cave and Edwyn Collins fighting over songwriting duties while fronting Magazine, but that's our kind of chaos. (www.facebook.com/GirlsNames) .
Head here to submit your own review of this album. While it's normal for bands and artists to change directions and styles as they develop their own unique sound, Northern Ireland quartet Girls Names on the other hand are a band who, up until recently, have suffered from something of a musical identity crisis. Although they started out making the kind of noisy guitar-pop that fit perfectly with the ethos of their label at the time, Slumberland, they weren't exactly satisfied with that direction, and, after releasing three EPs and a full-length album, they reinvented themselves as a moody and atmospheric post-punk band on their 2013 album, The New Life.
For a band whose output has been mostly defined by reinvention, Girls Names’ trajectory couldn’t be more fitting. While 2011’s Dead To Me affirmed their predilection for jangly guitars, it was a safe introduction to the band, and not much distanced them from the rest of the jangle-pop contingent associated with their then label mates on Slumberland Records. Rather than simply being in the throes of finding their feet, however, you got the feeling that they weren’t quite being true to themselves.
Belfast band Girls Names’ first couple of releases barely saw a single track that surpassed three minutes. For the most part, they were filled with spunky, jittery punk tunes that were lo-fi and basking in the dark romanticism of the 80s. 2013’s ‘New Life’ however saw them break into the aural passages of many a muso; with its more airy and slow-burning psych-rock.