[one_half last=”no”]
Holding Hands With Jamie

NBHAP Rating: 4,5/5


[one_half last=”yes”]GIRL BAND
Holding Hands With Jamie

Release-Date: 25.09.2015
Label: Rough Trade

01. Umbongo
02. Pears For Lunch
03. Baloo
04. In Plastic
05. Paul
06. The Last Riddler
07. Texting An Alien
08. Fucking Butter
09. The Witch Doctor




Dublin four-piece GIRL BAND recently dropped an anecdote in an interview that sums them up pretty well. When talking about their writing process, singer Dara Kiely says that a recent session was thrown into confusion because bass player Dan Fox took the maverick step of playing a note: ‘He plays G in a song and he’s like, ‘Is this selling out? Are you sure about this lads – this isn’t pop music?’‘. This, probably a joke, story rings true because GIRL BAND have made their name by being about as far away from pop music as is humanly possible. Across two EPs and some relentless touring they’ve become known for their crashing, intense take on industrial rock, making music at the point where playing an instrument and trying to smash it to pieces becomes more or less indistinguishable. Recently signed up to Rough Trade Records, their debut album Holding Hands With Jamie aims to take that pulverising sound to the full-length format.

When talking about GIRL BAND’s sound, you have to break the band down into two components: Dara and the machine. Very few bands have ever sounded like GIRL BAND, because very few band have ever sounded like a Soviet factory about to explode. The instrumental section of GIRL BAND are fused into a kind of metallic unit. Occasionally individual instruments are distinguishable, but even then they’re twisted to the point of unrecognizability. And for the vast majority of the album they’re all part of the same beast, growling, roaring and screaming in perfect unison.

Girl Band 2014

Girl Band

Frontman Dara Kiely’s vocal inflections meanwhile, are almost worthy of a review on their own merit. Kiely has a remarkable ability to casually roll words into the exact shape and form he wants them. On Paul he powers through the entire catalogue of disdainful intonations, from the ‘nyah-nyah’ tones of ‘nice Ronnie, anyway’ to solid ‘fuck-off’ screaming to the bored contempt of ‘he’s best mates with, her dad, dad, dad…’. His lyrics, when audible, are also used in a curious way. Kiely uses words less as a way to express narrative or description but rather as tools to express emotion or feeling. Occasionally he’ll snap out this mode of expression and a disturbingly vivid image will pop out of the soup. It’s difficult to imagine a line that better gives off a stink of boredom and futility than ‘Spend my time watching Top Gear with my trousers down, covered in soother cream and talking to myself’ all year.

All this makes for some intensely compelling music. Umbongo is a spine-gnawing run up and down the same riff and rattles that idea along, slowly becoming more and more depraved as it moves forward. In Plastic is a grinding, abrasive track (although this description could apply to everything on the album), slowing cranking up the tension till it crashes to a halt. And Paul is the album’s crown jewel, seven minutes of feral grunge that eventually roars into one final chorus. But it’s difficult to highlight individual tracks on Holding Hands With Jamie, because the album functions entirely as a unit, a set of tracks that complement each other’s tempo switches, flourishes and eccentricities. It’s an album that leaves you feeling slightly concussed after listening, and will probably damage the structural integrity of any building you play it too loudly in, but it’s an astonishing record. It’s deep, raw and very very unique, and there aren’t many other albums in 2015 that you can say that about.

Holding Hands With Jamie sometimes sounds like the sky falling in around your skull, but it’s one of the standout records of 2015, a barrage of some of the most powerful, deranged rock we’ve heard in years.