About Girls Names
Belfast, Northern Ireland group Girls Names started their career making noisy indie pop and found a home on Slumberland Records, but as they released more music, their sound took a series of left turns that led them down a more experimental path that saw them embracing epic dance music on the single "The New Life," warped post-punk on third album My Arms Around a Vision, and darkly epic territory on 2018's Stains on Silence.
The band 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 on the Belfast-based label Cass/Flick soon after they formed, and their first mini-album, You Should Know by Now, was released on Tough Love in the spring of 2010. A 12" EP on Captured Tracks, Don't Let Me In, followed soon after.
The band signed to Slumberland and released its debut album, Dead to Me, early in 2011. After issuing a split single with the band Weird Dreams in 2012, they added another guitarist, Phil Quinn (from the band Charles Hurts), to the lineup and began working on a new album. The first single, the nearly eight-minute-long "The New Life" (with a remix by J.D. Twitch of Optimo on the B-side), signaled that the band was beginning to expand its sonic reach. Girls Names' second album, The New Life, was released in early 2013 by Tough Love in the U.K. and Slumberland in the U.S. Soon after the album, Brogan left the band and was replaced by Gib Cassidy of Logikparty. After the tour for The New Life ended, the bandmembers decamped to an isolated cottage for a week to write their next album. Following more touring and honing of material, they hit the studio in a more experimental mood. Their third album, My Arms Around a Vision, reflected this new outlook, presenting a more dynamic post-punk approach. It was released by Tough Love in October of 2015. Following its release, the band headed out on tour to support it, but a year later Cassidy left the band.
After recording at various locations including Cully's house, rehearsal spaces, and Belfast's Start Together Studios, a fourth album was mixed and finished, but Girls Names decided it just wasn't sounding the way they wanted. They decided to put things on hold while they returned to day jobs and took a break from music. After six months, they revisited the album, tearing the songs apart, then putting them back together in a revamped form they were happy with. The next step was to return to Start Together Studios and, with the help of Ben McAuley, mix the album again. The preponderance of drum machines, the deconstructed melodies, and an extra layer of lyrical darkness gave the album, Stains on Silence, a different sound than previous efforts, and for the first time the influence of bands like These Immortal Souls and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds was apparent. Tough Love released the record in June of 2018. ~ Margaret Reges
- Belfast, Northern Ireland