Girls Names - Stains on Silence

by Jon Burke Rating:7 Release Date:2018-06-15
Girls Names - Stains on Silence
Girls Names - Stains on Silence

Girls Names, Belfast’s answer to: ‘what would the next Nick Cave record sound like if he recorded it in Twin Peaks?’ is about to release their fourth full-length record. Though the album is new to listeners, the songs were recorded last year and the whole record was shelved for months due to turmoil from both within and without the band. From the loss of their longtime drummer to a deep dissatisfaction with the album’s sound, Girls Names needed space and time away from the experience in order to grow from it. After taking six months off from the band, all involved eventually returned to the record with fresh ears, ready to confront the material anew. Ultimately, the initial mix of Stains On Silence was totally scrapped for a newer, more cohesive sound. The results are often compelling if slighlty underwhelming on the whole.

Stains On Silence’s opener, “25”, is highly reminiscent of King Krule’s The Ooz in its lecherous shuffle and rusty Badalamenti-esque guitar sounds. The ethereal, almost saccharine, keyboards are equally evocative of a kind of sweaty, standing on-line at the free clinic, discomfort that is also somehow incredibly cool and cinematic. For his part, Girls Names lead, Cathal Cully, murmurs the song’s lyrics in a kind of drug sick monotone that juxtaposes nicely against the uplift of the keyboards.

Next up, “Haus Proud,” offers a thundering, darkly atmospheric, groove reminiscent of a night spent clubbing somewhere in the Eastern Bloc, circa 1983. The low-hanging referent is Joy Division but “Haus Proud” draws deeper inspiration from Peter Murphy and Gang of Four, respectively. Cathal Cully’s lyrics and vocals throughout Stains On Silence wax and wane between heartfelt angst and ironic detachment. This dichotomy is quite fitting for a record with a vibe that can be described as both icy and fiery from one moment to the next. Despite this seemingly schizoid whiplash, Stains On Silence manages to stay afloat due to the prodigious talents of all involved.

On “The Impaled Mystique,” for example, bassist Claire Miskimmin lays down the kind of slinky strut one tends to associate with funk instead of goth or new wave. Layers of synths begin to hum atop the beat and Cully, his voice heavy with reverb, murmurs several verses worth of despair. The outcome is a catchy little gothic gem.

The highlight of Stains On Silence however is the album’s closer, “Karoline”. The steady pulse of a drum machine lays down a rather upbeat (at least by Girls Names standards) rhythm which seems to excite Cully into actually singing for a change. When Cully croons: “Karoline/ Beating out the fires of passion” it’s clear that not only does Cully have some vocal chops but also that, given the right subject matter, he’s actually capable of some passion himself.

While I don’t love this record, it is clear that Girls Names are a talented collective. I think the rough circumstances that led to the inception of Stains On Silence have resulted in a less than ideal album. With that said, there are moments of brilliance throughout Stains On Silence and Girls Names are definitely on my radar for whatever they do next.

Overall Rating (0)

0 out of 5 stars
  • No comments found
Related Articles