Release Date: Apr 26, 2011
Record label: Slumberland
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop
"Lawrence", the first track on this record by Girls Names, starts with a woozy, tape-warped guitar strum and a spate of whirring white noise. Given that the album is called Dead to Me, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you were entering into a bleak record of dissonant, droney punk dirges. But after a few seconds, the noise dissipates to make way for a slippery riff that leads into an effortlessly catchy, sun-kissed pop tune.
Belfast’s Girls Names have already released some work on the great Captured Tracks and Slumberland labels and have now moved on to Tough Love for their full-length, Dead to Me. Their sound is a heady mix of shoegaze, lo-fi pop, and 60’s garage, with one foot in the edgy, guitar-heavy musical history of their locality and the other in the world of the girl groups of almost 50 years ago. Over the past few years, Girls Names have supported acts like Times New Viking, which says something about their production sensibility, which is stripped back and scuzzy, relying heavily on the classic pop setup of drums, bass, guitar, and vocals.
Ever since [a]The Smiths[/a] brought a swagger to the business of morbidity, many, many bands have tried to replicate the perverse pop that [a]Morrissey[/a], Marr and co mastered. Belfast trio [a]Girls Names[/a] have a go here, and fare far better than most. Forget their poor punctuation: this debut LP is awash with bittersweet romance and deadpan derision, the latter neatly encapsulated by the title.
In the present age of revivalism, a band that possesses lo-fi, garage, and post-punk influences must be in want of something rather special, if their music is to stand out from the throng. And in repurposing a well-known quotation from a ‘classic,’ we reflect something about the curious relationship in which Girls Names stand in the past and in the future. Girls Names are a throwback to particular moments in sonic history, but in the postmodern recombination of influences that has, ironically, become a typical characteristic of contemporary ‘alternative’ music, they hold out an imminent promise that isn’t fully realized in the present.