The release of Girls Names sophomore album The New Life saw a departure from the tin can trappings of their debut Dead To Me. Ditching raw bursts of indie pop in exchange for an adventure into the more gloomy corners of post-punk.
This track record of reinvention looked set to continue after the launch of ‘Zero Triptych’ this March. An eleven minute deluge of entrancing experimental soundscapes that received Radio 1 airtime. Its absence from their latest offering Arms Around a Vision, makes sense upon hearing that AAAV is sonically far closer to The New Life than their recent trippy epic.
True to form (previous work features such cheery titles as ‘I Could Die’ and ‘Bury Me’), Girls Names continue to dive into darker territory, offering a selection of tracks that conjure up images of bleak dreary wastelands. Singer, Cathal Cully, admits that “Hatred crops up a few times”, indeed ‘Chrome Rose’ – a hypnotic mixture of repetitive drums and bass lines behind haunting synth – has Cathal spitting “I hate you all”. But Cathal rejects the notion that this record is one dimensional, “Love is the most prevalent theme…it’s a romantic record”.
The subtle transformations from the dreary to the dreamy ensure that the listener is not condemned to an onslaught of overbearing gloom. Indeed, the twelve songs are divided into three acts by two short electronic interludes, giving the album breathing space. Whilst ‘Reticence’, ‘Desire Oscillations’ and ‘An Artificial Spring’ find the band in alt-rock swagger mode. But despite the catchy hooks and engaging melodies AAAV is no party album, the overriding theme is that of brooding post punk that seemingly requires a wardrobe consisting entirely of black to pull off.
AAAVs nightmarish landscape of woozy chaos offers nothing ground-breaking but for fans of The Horrors, Joy Division and Nick Cave it certainly deserves a listen.