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Arms Around a Vision

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Album Review

After throwing their fans for a loop by shifting their outlook from their first album's bright noise pop to their second's gloomy post-punk, Girls Names' third album doubles down on the somberness and despair, strips off a layer of studio gloss, and adds some tricky bits to the arrangements. Arms Around a Vision has a grittier feel and tougher sound, with jagged guitars and loud drums, while at the same time the band shows a more nuanced way of arranging the songs. The dynamic shifts within the songs are bracing, the differences in tone from song to song keep listeners guessing, and the subtleties in the arrangements are a definite step forward. This change in approach allows for the transmission of more emotion and excitement, something the slicked-back style of New Life didn't always allow. Vocalist Cathal Cully certainly got the memo and he cuts through the mix like he's singing to save his life. Sometimes conjuring up Nick Cave and his dramatic fury, sometimes sounding like Ian Curtis plugged into a light socket, Cully is engaged and out front in a way he hasn't been before. It may take a spin or two to get used to this big change, but once on board, it's easy to get caught up in his emotional whirlwind — especially taking into account how good the clanging, careening music sounds and how hooky most of the songs are. The shorter, more explosive tracks are the first to make an impression as they lash and slash their way into your brain. "An Artificial Spring" and "Malaga" are the kind of post-rock meets pop that mixes sweet melodies and spiky sentiments very well. The longer songs that mix motorik grooves with moody textures while slowly evolving and mutating, like "Chrome Rose," with its shocking ending, are those that sink in the deepest. Unlike their previous two albums, Arms Around a Vision isn't simple to get into. It might take a little work, but it's an enjoyable endeavor and it makes for an ultimately more enjoyable album in the long run.

Customer Reviews

Absolutely Brilliant 3rd Album!

The title says it all, this 3rd album by the Belfast talent is easily their best. Just one word for this candidate for album of the year….BRILLIANT!

Austin SXSW 2016 find of the fest

Excellent post punk in the vein of Echo, Cure, Bauhaus, etc.... Not derivitive. Like the Stones reworking blues masters, Girls Names is reinventing a classic sound from the 80's and making something new while honoring the past. Made me wanna dig a hole, sit in it, get loaded, pour booze over myself and cry. If you like this kind of stuff their live set was brillant. They aren't a bunch of boring crybabies who ignore the crowd like say the J&Marychain do. This band worked hard to make the show worth paying to see.


Formed: 2009 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The Belfast, Ireland group Girls Names formed in 2009, initially as a duo consisting of guitarist/vocalist Cathal Cully and novice drummer Neil Brogan. They started off with a noisy sound that nodded to old-school indie pop acts like Beat Happening, Field Mice, and Josef K. Bassist Claire Miskimmin, whom Cully had to teach the basics of her instrument before she joined, was brought on board as a full-fledged member of Girls Names the following year. Girls Names' demos were released on cassette tape...
Full Bio
Arms Around a Vision, Girls Names
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Customer Ratings