Girls Names – Stains on Silence – Album Review by Killian Laher
Having parted ways with former drummer Gib Cassidy, Belfast band Girls Names return with their fourth album. After 2013’s The New Life put them on the map, follow-up Arms Around A Vision pushed them in a more expansive direction.
This album sees them step back largely to the rigid, post-punk sound where they made their name. The icy slow-burner 25 introduces the album rather well with pounding drum machines and heavily treated guitars and synths providing a framework for Cathal Cully’s lugubrious vocals. The hilariously-titled Haus Proud picks up the pace a bit, but an over-emphasis on Cully’s at times monotonous vocals doesn’t quite work. The same could be said of tracks like The Process and Fragments of a Portrait. There are some nice touches, The Impaled Mystique features Philip Quinn’s wonderful wobbly Cure-style guitar solo.
It falls to the final two tracks to present the most interesting side of the band. The title track is something of a torch ballad, and here Cully’s vocal is muffled giving the track an odd sound. With all the instrumentation being somewhat indistinct, the track is given time and space to slowly unfurl, and the lack of clarity really works. Final track Karoline ends the album with a flourish, Cully’s higher register vocal sounding passionate.
It’s difficult for Girls Names to stand out from the post-punk herd without a major point of difference or USP. The band is arguably at its most interesting when they stretch out and flex their musicianship so it’s a shame they don’t indulge this side more.
Track List –
2. Haus Proud
3. The Process
4. The Impaled Mystique
5. Fragments of a Portrait
6. A Moment and a Year
7. Stains on Silence