There is an overriding sense of darkness and foreboding surrounding Dublin’s lo-fi punks Girlfriend. With song titles like ‘kill them all (your feelings)’ and ‘the stuff you think about late at night and never tell anyone about’ which adorn their debut EP 3AM rituals, it’s clear that on the surface anyway, this band have shrouded themselves in this veil of death and misery through which no light can pierce. As the four-piece say, their music is to be consumed “at 3AM while sitting in a circle of salt surrounded by black candles casting spells on enemies/friends/local fiends/lovers”. Tongues are firmly in cheek with that description, but there is some merit behind it.
Musically, they’re noisy and angular with only the faintest sliver of a melody guiding the songs; guitars shriek atonally, drums shudder and clatter and the vocals veer between porcelain delicacy and animalistic wails. It draws from the great discordant tradition of the American indie scene. Shades of Sonic Youth, early Modest Mouse, and Merchandise are undeniable, due in no small part to the home-fi production. While that sense of disquiet runs throughout everything they do, there’s a gentility and fragility to the band, particularly in the vocals, that ensures the songs never succumb to the trappings of “woe is me” solipsism and are instead exorcisms all those hateful, disgusting feelings that steal the hours of the day away in the healthiest possible manner; more Rites of Spring than Morrissey. What you get with Girlfriend is an emotionally raw thrill ride from an extremely promising young group. Will Murphy