Drowned In Sound ist begeistert und vergibt 9 vo 10 Punkten:
And so, fast forward another eight months and those compositions are finally with us in a recorded format. Encompassing ten pieces of exquisitely crafted vignettes - nine not including the 56-seconds long intro 'Portrait' - The New Life is an inspired collection that's pretty much self-explanatory by way of its title. While the reverb-laden guitars, heavily distorted vocals and occasional Eighties reference points remain in part, there's something altogether more illuminating about The New Life than its predecessor even remotely hinted at.
If the opening bassline to 'Pittura Infamante' sounds familiar - and to anyone with the slightest knowledge of The Stone Roses or Altered Images it will be - there's a whole sinister undertone eating away at its deepest core. "That bodies have to retain recovery, it's too hard" insists Cully over a haunting melody that borders on nervous. 'Drawing Lines' also veers uneasily between Cully and Philip Quinn's textured six-stringed interplay and devastating couplets like "Beauty lies behind abstraction" and "Stare into a face with fragile eyes that bleed". At times Cully's vocals are so distorted in the mix they become indecipherable, but here the clarity in such dread-filled verses conspire to make five of the most devastating minutes these ears have been exposed to in recent times.
While much of the emphasis is focused upon Cully, it's worth mentioning at this point the impeccably taut rhythm section of Neil Brogan and Claire Miskimmin. Allegedly, Miskimmin couldn't actually play the bass when she first joined the band three years ago. Here, the harmonious juxtaposition between all four members characterises the revitalised Girls Names impeccably. 'Hypnotic Regression' could be the missing link between Wire's experimental pop passages and the edgy New York cool of Crystal Stilts. Riding along on the cusp of a reverb-heavy wave, it's another shining example of Girls Names new found ambition. Borrowing from the past is one thing. To turn it into a unique entity something else completely. That The New Life's creators have achieved it in spades speaks volumes. For dedication to the cause if nothing else. After all, it would have been so easy to just follow the formulaic path set by others on a similar journey.
Quinn's orgasmic keyboard entrees float and hover above Cully's every syllable on the dreamy 'Occultation', while 'A Second Skin', possibly inspired by The Wake's underrated Here Comes Everybody menaces ("Should we wait for a judgment day?") and soothes ("You'll find your perfect place") in equal measures. 'Notion' is the nearest Girls Names get to the short, sharp bursts of Dead To Me, its three minutes infused with ebullient post-punk bile. The best is saved for last though, as the shuffling, hypnotic groove of 'Projektions' melts effortlessly into the eight-minutes long title track, arguably Girls Names' most audacious and spellbinding creation to date. "How can we ever begin?" asks Cully before responding with a curt, "Meet through my darkest days", its chiming riff ascending into a climactic finale that brings both song and album to a close.
At times, The New Life feels like a concept. The sound of isolation and despair. Even visually mirrored and depicted by Rob Peart's monochrome sleeve photo. If Cathal Cully's aim was to leave the past behind then he's succeeded resoundingly, and created one of this year's most ungainly beautiful records in the process.
The Belfast-based four-piece thrives on looking to its post-punk forefathers for inspiration—specifically The Cure circa Seventeen Seconds, The Smiths’ first album and Movement-era New Order. The band offers its own updated take on these sounds, but one can’t help but think of these great albums past when listening to the spindly, lithe basslines, chorus-laden guitar strumming, eerie background synths, crisp snare hits and morose vocals that comprise much of The New Life. In other words, the album is a fairly dreary affair.
For Girls Names, a sprite, upbeat moment tends to sound somewhat troubled. On “A Second Skin,” a plucked guitar melody dances above tremolo-infused chords and a counterpoint bassline—all the makings of a good pop song. Of course, the key is decidedly minor and Cathel Cutty’s vocals are sullen and ghostly, bringing the whole affair down from outright catchiness. The album’s first single, “Pittura Infamante,” starts off like the beginning of The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored,” with a bassline that will repeat throughout the course of the five minutes. This is soon joined by a jaunty chord progression that sounds like Robert Smith’s guitar work from “A Play For Today,” and then Cutty’s vocals float in, once again keeping any ounce of joy from seeping in. Dark doesn’t necessarily mean restrained here, however, and the band does get noisy over the final minutes of the album’s title track, bringing the record to a close with waves of screeching feedback over a hypnotically repeated groove.
Make no mistake: all this talk of Girls Names’ gloominess is not really a criticism. After all, throughout the history of music, some of the best bands have trafficked in the dour. Girls Names aren’t exactly doing goth, even though the band is clearly influenced by some of that movement’s progenitors. What the band is doing is creating a unique template of dark, post-punk, garage-y rock, often controlled and sometimes unleashed, that marks The New Life as one of the better albums released so far this year.