Gilla Band - Most Normal Music Album Reviews

Gilla Band - Most Normal Music Album Reviews
The Irish band’s unrelenting third album, made with an arcade of pedals and processors, surges with electricity. Inside all of its noise is an indignant, surreal mania that gives it a twisted pop soul.

There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments on Most Normal, the audacious third album by Ireland’s Gilla Band. Occasionally they come from Dara Kiely’s riled-up lyrics: “I can’t wear hats I just get slagged,” he chants over Adam Faulkner’s drilled snares on “Bin Liner Fashion.” On “Backwash,” he declares “no one looks cool around a wasp” in a matter-of-fact sneer, though the real punchline is the sickly, warp-speed gargle of noise that follows, which gives the feel of swerving down the twistiest slide at the waterpark on a flume of sewage.

But perhaps the funniest moment comes at the start of “Almost Soon.” On an album where Gilla Band became studio rats determined to push every sound to a mutant extreme, here is Most Normal’s lone immediately identifiable guitar. Not only that, guitarist Alan Duggan plays straightforward chiming chords, and in a tone that immediately suggests the ebullient cockiness of Is This It-era Strokes. Though three of Gilla Band cop to being in a teenage Strokes rip-off band, the four-piece (completed by bassist Daniel Fox) could not exist any further from that kind of rock orthodoxy. And sure enough, within 40 seconds, Kiely is howling “I’ll brain you!” and Faulkner’s tidy beat suddenly sounds like he’s whipping static. By the time the song ends, Gilla Band are spinning up clouds of outer-planetary ash.

Most Normal is Gilla Band’s third album in eight years. Despite a slight catalog, they’ve become one of the most influential bands of their generation in the British and Irish Isles—not least at home in Ireland, where the likes of Fontaines D.C. and the Murder Capital followed in their frenzied (and putatively post-punk) wake. “It’s nuts watching it ’cause they’re all like rock stars now,” Duggan said recently. “And we’re still fucking, er, very much not. Which is fine.” It’s also the point. From their breakout song—a distinctly condemned cover of techno producer Blawan’s “Why They Hide Their Bodies Under My Garage?”—Gilla Band (fka Girl Band) refused to act like a rock band (pretty much the smartest thing any outfit of that ilk can do today). Their distance from mainstream success gave them the space to hone their brutal and exhilarating approach.

After releasing their discomfiting 2015 debut, Holding Hands With Jamie, Gilla Band canceled tours so that Kiely could prioritize a mental health emergency. They spent two years writing the 2019 follow-up The Talkies, happy enough to let people assume the group had disbanded as they toiled in private on a masterpiece of panic and deconstruction. Once the pandemic limited touring, their rehearsal space became a refuge where they could hang out, get drunk, and push extremes, working with zero concern for how they would ever play their third album live. And Most Normal is unmistakably lab work. Instrumental phrases repeat across the record at varying levels of degradation, from full pelt to ghostly apparition. A stridently contemporary record that couldn’t have been made without an arcade of pedals and processors, not to mention a forensic intent, it bears comparison to the two charred albums that Low have made with BJ Burton, although it shares as much DNA with Yeezus’ precisely warped abrasion or Earl Sweatshirt’s hallucinatory Some Rap Songs. Crucially, despite Gilla Band persistently writing and reinventing—an easy way to make things stodgy—it also breathes vigorously, making the gap between man and machine imperceptible.

The Talkies started with an unsettling close-mic’d recording of Kiely having an anxiety attack; elsewhere in the album, he moaned and retched, stuck out on a limb from the band. On Most Normal, the music and those uncontrollable psychological realities heave as an awesome whole. Opener “The Gum” sounds like a violent death buffering. After the gnashing conclusion to “Backwash,” in which Kiely’s voice fragments like a shack in a tornado, comes “Gushie,” a dazed instrumental tundra that seems to track the cortisol ebbing away; standout “The Weirds” emanates from a similar haze into a renewed jolt of mania, heralded by heady slashes of guitar and a berzerk beat. Their whacked-out signal-to-noise ratio occasionally blips like a mind faltering and snapping back to; as the album reaches its end, it seemingly starts to asphyxiate. Many songs flow directly from one to the other—the terminal velocity of “Bin Liner Fashion,” with its atmosphere-penetrating scream, snaps into the furious processed howl of “Capgras”—denying their captive audience respite. Not only do Kiely and the band seethe as one, Most Normal exerts a possessive physicality on the listener. “I never killed before and I’ll never kill again,” Kiely rants on “The Weirds”; yet Gilla Band’s obliterating catharsis provides a good surrogate release for wringing necks.

Despite the album’s slippery flow, it is anything but formless. The Talkies was a conceptual album in part. Inspired by the looseness of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, it featured repeat motifs in the key of A; Kiely omitted pronouns, wishing to avoid any connotations brought on by use of “I” or “you,” and one song, “Aibohphobia,” gleefully fired symmetrical sentences at anyone suffering with a fear of palindromes. It created an air of resistance, Gilla Band choosing to backflip rather than walk. But Most Normal is a direct attack that hits like chugging gas from the nozzle. It’s not only thanks to its mauling noise, but the antic and insistent cadence of Kiely’s delivery. “I spent allllll my money on shit clothes, shit clothes,” he declaims in a lumbering sneer at the outset of “Eight Fivers,” a steady metronome amid swathes of interference. (The references to clothes, he has said, relate to his childhood shame at not being able to afford better ones.) The squall often rises to meet this tormented conductor, and his repeated phrases and internal rhymes give the album a twisted pop soul, no matter how nonsensical the words: “It became a muscle/A hustle to be a Jack Russell/Whose head was deaf and once again/Binged the Big Brother box set,” Kiely observes on the zooming “Backwash.” Most Normal teems with these inexplicable earworms, which bury in and leave you idly crooning “who’s in love with the balding earwig?” like it’s some Top 40 kiss-off.

Mostly, Kiely’s lyrics are a spray of indignant surreality. Some of them have the logic of sleep-talk: You can picture rushing to record a dozing friend as they drool “I’m the fastest man in the class/Wearing a big massive face,” as Kiely does on the slurred “Red Polo Neck.” The fish and wasps that festered in the lyrics of Gilla Band’s first two albums wriggle through here, as do an array of destitute characters bewildered by normal life. You could dig to uncover a seam of thoughts about aging—the point where Kiely “stopped being cute”; how he “got slow too fast”—although the album’s non-specific, all-encompassing state of turmoil feels like the more pressing concern.

It comes to a head on closer “Post Ryan.” To a queasy drone and an unsparing beat lifted from A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran (So Far Away),” Kiely abandons his parade of wasps and weirdos to spill his guts about being in a perpetual state of recovery from mental ill-health: “Took it all for granted/Gonna end up homeless/I hid behind the surreal/I‘m a bit too much,” he chants. He self-flagellates—on a song where the distortion pares back, he’s “just the same prick”—and reveals his powerlessness in the face of doctors using unintelligible “big words,” not to mention the tides of depression that fix him back in bed. “Oh no, not again,” Kiely wails, sarcasm his only defense. He concludes with another of his spiraling cadences: “Basically, I get inevitable depression when I do nothing,” he repeats, then the music stops dead. For a brief moment, Gilla Band reveal the necessity of their invention; otherwise, they leave us to simply behold its power.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Gilla Band - Most Normal Music Album Reviews Gilla Band - Most Normal Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 18, 2022 Rating: 5


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