Nowadays there seems to be a lot of acts falling into what I call ‘dada punk’. In essence dada punk is just that, Dadaist teachings and themes put into punk music. It’s no wonder why this marriage has come about, after all Dadaism was created when the artists felt that there was nowhere to go with their art and it bordered on becoming meaningless, its beginnings almost exactly mirroring how a lot of punk bands feel about the scene today. So they began embracing the meaninglessness with bizarre and almost always nonsensical pieces to showcase their dissatisfaction and their confusion. And with that in mind, here we have the newest album by GIRL BAND, with the innocently misleadingly title Holding Hands with Jamie.
Much like California’s The Garden, GIRL BAND have a knack for songs about that come straight out of the left field that are near unpredictable. From start to the very last bar I had no idea what was going on. All there was were some booming bass, a guitar that sounded like it was shredding paper, and the occasional name or foodstuff. To tell the truth, the first time listening is a bit disorienting. With most albums, even if you haven’t heard them before, your basic intuition can kind of lead you into what to expect next, to the point that sometimes you can even pick the next line. There is no of that here. Instead all familiarity is replaced with a dense cloud of noise and confusion.
There is a strange theme that runs through Jamie, that of eating and food. Umbongo ends with a weird chanting of “chicken fillet roll”, and ‘Fucking Butter’ ends with a description of both the literal fucking of butter and a repeating scream of “nutella, not tell her, nutella…”. Combined with the messy bassy instrumentation, it has a grotesque feeling to it, like something not quite right. It comes out like a stream of conscious attempt at nightmare fuel, and by the time you’re at ‘Witch Dr’, you’re definitely feeling at least unpleasant.
Have you ever been in a storm before? Not a small one with the occasion flash and roar of thunder. No, I mean trapped in gale force winds, the sheer force of which means that they’re screaming at you the entire time you’re hidden away. That’s what the instrumentation on Jamie feels like. This twisting wild whirlwind that roars not because it wants to but because it must. The raw and random nature of the lyrics and how they’re snarkily screamed only serves to amplify this feeling, that everything is wild and hectic.
Dadaism started because artists had lost meaning, but it didn’t mean the art they made became meaningless. Instead they inspired new emotions towards contemporary culture by focusing on what was taken for granted and reassembling it. Jamie comes across a lot like the reassembly of current rock and alternative, putting the distorted guitar as the constant focus instead of the vocal melody, and inverting the normally raw and emotive lyrics with almost jibberish. It’s a strange experiment and whether it holds up, well like all art it will differ from person to person. But it is at least worth checking out.
Review Score: 6.8 out of 10
Holding Hands with Jamie is available now.