Girl Band The Talkies Rough Trade
The Talkies begins with Prolix, a track built around singer Dara Kiely’s increasingly rapid, erratic breathing captured in a rehearsal. It sets the scene for an unsettling, seismic record that lives inside its own singular, strange orbit. The album arrives some four years after the Dublin band’s startlingly superb debut, Holding Hands With Jamie and during that time there was a period of poor mental health and cancelled tours. Excitingly, The Talkies is as writhing, challenging and explosive as its predecessor.
A shapeshifting, cacophonous record, at times The Talkies feels unmoored and discomfiting, the band unleashing discordant shards of guitar and jarring mechanical screeches which push and pull around Adam Faulkner’s sharp percussion. Sometimes, they lock into woozy, oiled-up grooves. The sprawling Prefab Castle does all of this at once in its seven minutes.
Kiely’s absurdist wordplay teases abstract images: “Acrobats stab orcas/ Do geese see God?/ Party booby trap” goes Aibohphobia, almost certainly the only song written solely in palindromes. But more poignant moments also come into focus. On Salmon of Knowledge, Kiely sighs: “Who shouldn’t look for advice?/ All tired and want to go home” and over Going Norway’s no wave dance, with percussion like broken glass, he screams “That’s just mental/ What is normal?”
The record ends with breathing again on Ereignis. This time it’s calm and controlled. As a listener you need to catch your breath, too. The Talkies is an album so viscerally brilliant it stays with you long after you’ve stopped listening, the silence ringing in your ears.