Some would say, that an album needs to speak to you on a personal level to be considered truly amazing. The music needs to be in perfect unison with its stories, it needs to move you in any way, shape or form. Holding Hands With Jamie does just that. But rather than move you, it’s more along the lines of bludgeoning you to death with a sledgehammer and psychotic foot pedal work.
The Irish, post-electronic/punk/noisecore/madmax/psychotic/anything-else-you-could-add group, have been constant in evolving their sound into something that when analysed, is the furthest thing from complex (in a visual sense), but yet is so mind-blowingly strange, it feels as if they’ve created a whole new style of music altogether.
There are groups, both current and before Girl Band, who have tampered into similar and different genres, with their own influences such as Thot, White Suns, METZ even classic bands with Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. But what draws Girl Band towards the higher levels of METZ, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, is their skill of turning the most simple of sounds into a chaotic wall of magnificence.
It’s no surprise that we were expecting big things from Girl Band, (we named them our #1 for 2015) having dived head first into their back catalogue with the arrival of break-out track Lawman at the beginning of 2014, it was instant to anyone, that Girl Band had even more chaos up their sleeves.
Now in 2015, following their KEXP performance which showed the first taste of Holding Hands With Jamie, Girl Band’s debut album has arrived in as grand a fashion as imaginable.
By that we mean, it arrived with two music videos that are beyond hysteric and weird.
The first arrival from Holding Hands With Jamie (HHWJ), came in the form of Paul, a distorted reality, littered with drug paraphernalia and farm-yard animals. From its running time of a near seven minutes, Girl Band’s first display of HHWJ was that of a coke infested, dystopic dream world, where fathers sound like possessed mothers and everyone lives behind a guise of deception and alcohol. While monstrous bass hooks and shrieking guitar pedals provide the ambient setting for an onslaught of orgasmic confusion; Dara Kiely’s yells and higher than ever before vocals, lead Paul into catastrophically insane mentalities. (Which is surprisingly a good thing).
But just in case you thought these Irish-noise rockers couldn’t make their videos any weirder than their cover of Blawan’s Why They Hide Their Bodies under My Garage (featuring a rave at an autopsy), following single Pears for Lunch (formally known as Sexy Wife) features a TV with multiple personality disorder that commits suicide on its wedding day.
A sane narrative structure, has never been Girl Band’s ‘strongest’ suit, whether it comes to their lyrics or music videos, but their beyond bizarre nature works perfectly with their combination of hysterics, and monstrous screams from Dara, Daniel, Alan and Adam, whether it’s vocally or instrumentally. To amplify the uncomfortable nature of self-destruction and insanity on Pears For Lunch, they do just that with the lyrics, mentioning Garlic Curry Cheese Chips, wishing they ‘was a wife’ and screaming that they have said this and they have said this, they have said that!
It’s not just all garlic curry cheese chips, and daughter’s called Paul though. We’ve got a whole host of ideas thrown towards us, in the form of professional pigeon surgeons, Nutella, professional cats, and whether or not Batman and Robin have ever kissed. The lyrical ludicrousness is a constant for Girl Band, but if you just focus on chocolate spread and homosexual superheroes, you’ll miss out HHWJ’s biggest selling point.
An electronically influenced, industrial rock masterpiece.
Throwing in the term masterpiece is something that calls for discussion. Is it a personal point of view? Do you have to be specially trained to understand a masterpiece? The answer to both, is as complex as HHWJ.
Girl Band have always made it clear, that they aren’t a punk band or an industrial band. Their influences come from electronica, whether that’s from Blawan or lesser known electronic acts. Their sound manipulates a slew of genres that are centralised around this one focus. Yet this clear lack of generic electronica in their sound, is what positions HHWJ as being a masterpiece.
Opener Um Bongo manipulates guitar riffs into sounding like mutated rave beats, which personify an acid trip that’s turned horribly wrong, while tracks Baloo and Fucking Butter capture the essence of Berlin’s Berghain, creating pieces that you couldn’t even imagine yourself, swarmed in hysteria and paranoia that feels intoxicating and addictive.
The most interesting tracks however are In Plastic and Texting An Alien, as both create something that is fairly unheard of with Girl Band. Calm hysterics.
While both are placed into between high velocity tracks, both equally contrast vastly with their preceding and following tracks. In Plastic feels less like a Girl Band track, and more like an anthem for the march of a post-apocalyptic band. Its constant vocal layers, allow the growling bass hooks to provide the confusion towards Dara’s unusually calm vocals, leading for more paranoia and fear than on any other track on HHWJ.
Texting An Alien similarly, feels, Alien…The hollowed out drum beat perpetuates more violence than any harrowing bass hook could ever hope for. Especially when partnered with the ominous echo of an electronic drop, that ripples like the radiation from an atomic bomb.
While Girl Band’s sound focuses on dark, futuristic electronic and industrial sounds (as much as they do position their sound with), Holding Hands With Jamie is baffling in is simplistic sound. While it may be a constant attack of hysteric electronics, guitars, basses, drums and everything else, HHWJ utilises every element it throws at you with a completely configured process, which is no less planned than the mission to get on the moon was. Girl Band’s bizarre and confusing nature is the perfect style to create something so utterly simple, that it creates a whole new realm of complexity around it.
Are they trying to warn us about Nutella? Is Dara actually in contact with aliens. Or are Girl Band just evil masterminds who are attempting to control every listener with their satirical approach to their annoyingly labelled (for them) industrial rock? Either way, we’re completely captivated and are ready to welcome our overloads, Girl Band.