Girl Band, “Holding Hands with Jamie”

Girl_Band-2015-Holding_hands_with_Jamie_coverGirl Band
Holding Hands with Jamie
ROUGH TRADE
6/10

Dubliners Girl Band open their debut full-length album Holding Hands with Jamie with “Umbongo,” a blistering four-minute workout featuring psycho surf guitars, throbbing bass, and woofer-rattling percussion. It’s unrelenting and terrifyingly exhilarating with claustrophobia-inducing “There’s a beehive in my head” treble and cheese-grated larynx vocals. Though Girl Band spends the rest of the album matching “Umbongo” in volume and intensity, it never quite manages to equal that perfectly queasy equilibrium—push and pull, tension and release—with the same mastery. The album’s best moments come when the group introduces new elements to its core regimen, like the swaying strut of “Texting an Alien” or the galloping pace of “The Last Riddler.” These slight variations on the band’s abrasive framework suggest there’s more than raw provocation at work here, and keep Holding Hands with Jamie from feeling like an endurance test and more like a vigorous workout.

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