Holding Hands with Jamie arrives following a string of limited releases and years of touring for Irish noise-rockers Girl Band. Although it’s the band’s first official full-length LP, the album builds on three years of work spent developing a sound somewhat different from what you’ll find on this record. Tense and technical, with senseless lyrics and drastic rhythmic leaps that strangely work, it’s finally gaining Girl Band attention just as they finally begin to deserve it.
You’d be forgiven for envisioning vocalist Dara Kiely delivering the lyrics to most of Girl Band’s releases while wasted, screaming at people who really don’t notice. In a recent interview, Kiely confirmed that this record takes a lot of its style from his personal struggles with mental health, including periods of isolating delusion and paranoia. The album’s variety is a reflection of his instability.
Opening with ‘Umbongo’, a grinding collage of techno and metal bound by stunning input from drummer Adam Faulkner, the album assembles a collection of diverse tracks. Mellow and measured, ‘In Plastic’ clashes with truly manic tracks like ‘The Witch Dr.’. While these are individually good songs, it’s ‘Paul’, tucked halfway through the record, with its balance of intensity and moodiness that helps the album avoid the excessiveness of previous releases.
At times easily danceable, moshable or confoundingly avant-garde, Holding Hands With Jamie is remarkable, if not a bit of an overload for those after some consumable noise. It’s the unpredictability of the record that makes it so exciting, and Girl Band’s ability to pull off such an array of effects that will set them apart.