Does that insatiable artistic hunger still drive acts in the music industry? Has, for various shifting reasons, the shutting down of the route to gate-crash the mainstream, and the dream of a career in music being shut down for ordinary working class kids make it a less restless medium? Does technology, consumerism and careerism blunt their frustration and ultimately their art? Thus we have a preponderance of very white, middle class, major label endorsed stage school kids cluttering up our charts at present, with their hitherto comfortable lives and careerist outlooks. Is it any wonder then that their music is largely so safe, target marketed and corporate? And despite ‘all their pretty songs’ they lack anything of worth to say?
Well, you can’t accuse Belfast based band Girls Names of lacking that hunger, because on ‘A Hunger Artist’ they sound positively famished. The track is lifted from their forthcoming third album, Arms Around a Vision out Oct 2nd on Tough Love. A raging new-wave sound that hovers above like an angry thunder cloud, firing off reverb-heavy riffs like lighting bolts, relentless rhythm powered by ominous drums: it speeds down the motorway with reckless abandon lit up at the side of the road with synth patterns that flicker like street lights. “I’m a hunger artist this is my wife/ Where is my anger?/Where is my child?” Cathal Cully sneers his tone equal parts Iggy Pop and Nick Cave of his Birthday Party era: each note prowling with an intense and bruised rage meditating upon the suffering for one’s art: each violent image twisted with a fatalism of being heard or dying trying.
“I’m not starving or anything, but I’ve practically been living hand to mouth since I was 22,” confirms Cully. “Most guitar music now is just a playground for the rich middle classes and it’s really boring and elitist. We’re elitist in our own way, in that we’re on our own and you can’t fuck with us when we’ve nothing to lose”.
“We’ve got nothing. We’ve never had anything. And we don’t expect to. The only person I ever wanted to impress was myself. I’ve never got anywhere close to succeeding in doing that until this album. I’m proud of it. I think I can start saying I’m a musician now.”
‘A Hunger Artist’ is the sound of a band who are angry, dissatisfied and desperate; they’ve witnessed struggle and are reflecting it, railing against the industry that ignores the underground, shaking with the struggle to be listened too: whilst making music that bursts with intent. Girls Names dissatisfied dark new-wave shudders with the European post-industrialism rumble of Bowie‘s Berlin period, Neu, Can, Bauhauswelded to the menacing shadowy sound of English post-punk bands like The Cult, The Fall and Killing Joke. In turn, they have crafted an imperious sound that The Horrors could only dream of crafting. Girls Names are reflecting a struggle that is rarely reported upon and they don’t really care what you think of it but crucially sound utterly magnificent doing it.