Archives for November 2022

Gilla Band’s new album, Most Normal

Gilla Band, Most Normal

After the tour around their second album, The Talkies, was put on hiatus because of the pandemic, Girl Band found themselves with less to do and a more than usual amount of time to think. 

And they decided that, rather than wait to be picked up by the gender police and hauled in front of the court of public opinion, they’d change their name from Girl to Gilla Band. Discretion being the better part of valour. So this, Most Normal, is the third album from what is now the Gilla Band

Gilla were part of a trio of bands to come out of Dublin in the latter half of the 2010s, the other two being Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital – though the latter are flavoured as much by the River Lee as they are by the Liffey. 

Each produced a visceral, industrialised squall to guttural lyrics that were declaimed rather than sung, angrily decrying despair and urban alienation. Murder Capital and Fontaines found immediate, overnight success, the former to a manageable degree, the latter stratospherically so. But Gilla Band seemed somehow to have got left behind. 

Fontaines D.C. enjoying their success.

First, after being signed to Rough Trade and then releasing their first album, Holding Hands With Jamie, in 2015, the band were forced to take their first hiatus. As their lead singer, Dara Kiely, focused, quite correctly, on the mental health issues that were threatening to overwhelm him.

Then, when they eventually got back together again to release their very good second album, The Talkies, in 2019, Covid once again put them on hold. But this, it turns out, was a blessing in disguise. Because it sent them back into the studio, and the resulting album, Most Normal, is a significant step forward again. And is in fact one of the most exciting albums of the year.

The album’s strength come from two quarters. First, instead of only producing music that can be played live, they focused instead on using everything at their disposal in the studio to produce the noise they were looking for. The result is a sound that’s even more unnerving, and somehow even louder and more grating than the one produced on their previous pair of albums. As distortion gets processed to produce an even more perilous assault on the ears.

What it sounds like at times is that part of the soundtrack on a David Lynch film where the sounds are so distorted and dissonant, and what you hear is so unsettling, that you avert your eyes in fear of what’s about to happen.

As to what the album addresses, if the protagonists from CamusThe Stranger or Sartre’s Nausea were catapulted into the 21st century and locked inside a recording studio, this is very probably what the resulting album would sound like. 

The Murder Capital.

And second, and as facile as this undoubtedly is, it’s impossible not to conclude that the success enjoyed by Fontaines and the Murder Capital has knocked the edges off the songs that they’re now producing. 

Whereas the absence of that success has ensured that Gilla Band continue to be and to sound as angry about being overlooked and ignored by the world they find themselves in as they were five and six years ago. Not the music business world, the world in general. The real world.

It’s the sound of jump leads, one thrust into a brain, the other into the gut. And as such, it’s gloriously unmediated. 

The boys from Pitchfork give it an impressed 8.4 here, and correctly point to The Weirds as the standout track.

You can see the video for Backwash, the lead single, below. Just don’t expect it to chart any time soon.

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