Girl Band Breaks Down “The Talkies” Track by Track
The Irish noise-makers dig into the warped sounds of their experimental follow-up to 2015’s Holding Hands with Jamie.
Four years after releasing an LP’s worth of temper tantrums garnering them a cult following and a coveted spot among Time Magazine’s ten best albums of the year, Girl Band have returned with a new set of meltdowns backed by industrially filtered no wave. The Talkies, it seems, is Holding Hands with Jamie only more so—more feedback, heavier drums, more unexplained noises, more gibberish lyrics. For anyone fearing the band was developing a taste for pop music over their hiatus, the horror-film embellishments of the seven-and-a-half-minute penultimate track alone would reassure you otherwise.
With the album cycle finally reaching its conclusion today, the band seems relieved to reveal the nine highly experimental tracks complementing the relatively conventional noise-rock singles “Shoulderblades,” “Going Norway,” and “Salmon of Knowledge,” as well as a bit of background info on the recording process at Dublin’s Ballintubbert House, which played a major role in informing the album’s sound.
“Both excitement and relief flowed when we finished the record,” drummer Adam Faulkner shares. “I remember, on a few occasions, coming late into the studio for a mix session to find [bassist Daniel Fox] and Jamie had somewhat melted their minds having mixed about one minute of music all day. The relief when another person came in and said it sounded great was always appreciated.”
The Talkies is out today via Rough Trade. You can order it here, stream it below, and read along to what Faulkner and guitarist Alan Duggin had to say about each track beneath the stream.
The breathing on this was captured at one of our first practices after we pulled the album tour in 2015. We asked [vocalist Dara Kiely] to do some breathing over a guitar part and this naturally flowed.
2. “Going Norway”
As far as I can remember, this one grew from the middle out. I used to play the middle part in soundcheck and we took that and moved around it.
This one was a straight borrow. Myself and Alan had heard a remix of “Open Eye Signal” by Jon Hopkins and loved the feel. Then Daniel came out with that massive subby part on the bass and the song was built on that.
4. “Couch Combover”
The first experiment after Holding Hands with Jamie. Myself and Dara were absent from quite a few of the initial writing sessions, so Daniel and Alan started the process of coming up with little parts, looping them, then trying to write over it and chopping the whole lot up in a sort of self-sampling process.
This morphed when we got down to recording it. It’s played normally, then we reversed the audio and played along with the backwards version.
6. “Salmon of Knowledge”
Happy to say that this started with a drum beat! It’s an inversion on Mark Ronson’s take on Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” There’s an ongoing debate as to where the “one” is.
“Akienton” was primarily recorded in New York. We didn’t know exactly what we wanted to do here, but were enjoying the idea of trying to make something that would exist solely as a recording. We started with the guitar sound and tried to change rhythm every time the guitar note changed. This track ended up opening a lot of doors for us in terms of songwriting. Cutting between takes and exploring textures was really fun.”
The intention here was to write something as dry as possible. I think the only bit of flavour is a tambourine on the hi-hat.
“Amygdala” and this are the shortest tracks on the album. This one was inspired by a new pedal purchase of Al’s and wanting something quite metronomic.
I think this song and another from HHWJ earned me the nickname “Buckaroo.” We had the bones of this demoed, and when we came back to it, the three lads kept adding more and more drum parts, trying to find my breaking point. It’s hectic at the start, but I get a rest for the second half of the song.
11. “Prefab Castle”
My personal favourite to play. It’s a lot of fun! The interlude of music concrète is made from sounds of the house we recorded in. Doors, fridges, a water fountain, oven trays full of gravel, and myself and Daniel wailing on a trumpet and clarinet.
We wanted to close the album with something related to the opening but with a different feeling. This is more relaxed and generally warmer.