Recorded in a stately home on the outskirts of their native Dublin, Girl Band's second album 'The Talkies' sounds like what would happen if they had been in The Overlook Hotel from Stephen King's terrifying 'The Shining' instead. The very definition of uneasy listening, it is gripping from beginning to end as it goes ever deeper into a strange, fascinating soundscape.
Initially claustrophobic, tracks like 'Going Norway' and 'Shoulderblades' slowly expand in scale until they seem to tower over the listener in a nightmarish manner. The latter in particular seems to be spinning off its axis at first before a devastating stomp of a 'chorus' (terms like that make little sense here) blasts in. Guitars scale up to unseen heights, while frontman Dara Kiely screams something about Ricki Lake. And that's one of the more accessible tracks.
'Couch Combover' builds and builds in its intensity, a deep layering of industrial noise rock piling onto a skeleton of angular post-punk guitars. Hypnotic, the sound swirls around like a fog before sweeping in over everything. At points, 'The Talkies' feels like a dark magic trick, where two or three completely separate songs have been bolted on top of each other to somehow make a cohesive whole. As it builds towards a horrifying climax, the record goes even further 'out there' into undiscovered lands. 'Amygdala' is built largely on feral screams of anguish, while 'Laggard' feels like the walls are closing in as a skittering percussion mix with an alarm call of guitars. And then, in the perfect representation of 'The Talkies', it shifts into another surprising direction just as it seems it has settled down into a pattern.
A startling record, eerie and difficult at times to listen to, to say it isn't going to be for everyone is probably the only obvious thing about it. But for those it clicks with, it will be opening strange doors into a world of beautiful nightmares for years to come.