After staking out their own little plot of darkly melodic turf among the post-punk loving contemporaries, Girl Names decided to plow it up and start again on their fourth album, Stains on Silence. After nearly finishing the record, they decided they weren't happy with the results. After a long break, where the bandmembers didn't do much of anything musical, they came back to the recordings and start chopping them up and reassembling them in new ways. Unsurprisingly, the end result is much more fragmented and shattered-sounding than previous albums. Maybe it's because they lost their drummer, maybe it was the desire to get away from previous norms and create something new, but what they've done is reinvent themselves almost entirely here. The songs don't have the driving momentum of the past, the arrangements are precise and stark, and the vocals are even more up front in some cases. The Nick Cave influence comes through more clearly, so does a large debt to the more obscure Rowland S. Howard band These Immortal Souls. Stains on Silence has the same kind of jagged drama, needle-sharp guitar lines, and broken-down soul as the best of that band's work. "The Process" almost sounds like it was lifted right out of their catalog. For that matter, "25" comes off like the Bad Seeds playing the Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. Girls Names don't just ape that classic sound though, they add their own bits and bobs of weirdness, like the strangely beautiful pop song "The Impaled Mystique," and Cathal Cully is nothing if not a dynamic vocalist. It's tough for a band to reshape themselves drastically without losing the best parts of what came before, but Girls Names do a very good job of keeping the drama, intensity, and twisted emotion in place while taking the music into darker, odder realms. It's pretty far from the poppy place the band started at, but their journey remains one that is very much worth following.
Performance CreditsGirls Names Primary Artist
Claire Miskimmin Bass,Noise,Group Member
Cathal Cully Synthesizer,Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Loops,Group Member
Ben McAuley Drums
Phil Quinn Organ,Bass,Guitar,Background Vocals,Group Member
Technical CreditsCathal Cully Composer,drum programming
Ben McAuley Engineer