After a number of EPs and three albums Girls Names took a typically nonconformist move to mark their return, launching 11-minute long single Zero Triptych, which got played in full on Radio 1 but doesn't feature here at all. Instead Arms Around A Vision distils the Belfast band's dreary-yet-dreamy outward looking vision into twelve tracks of sharp post-punk.
Discussing the album, frontman Cathal Cully states, "We look to Europe for inspiration. For romance. For the idea of a better life ... For me, living in Belfast just makes you focus on your own art."
Like their contemporaries The Horrors and Interpol, Girls Names wear their influences proudly. You can hear plenty of elements of Can, Neu, Joy Division, Brian Eno here, together with traces of the New Romantic movement.
The warm electronic interludes of (Obsession) and (Convalescence) divide Arms Around A Vision into three acts, acting as brief moments of reprieve between the bursts of aggression. Self-produced by the band and engineered by Dan Rejmer, they carve out a soundscape that draws from a number of Europe's modern movements - Italian futurism, Russian constructivism and German's Zero Group. There is a modernist bent to Girls Names' sound - their music at times drowning in the simultaneous riot of conventional instruments played unconventionally together with unconventional instruments. Drums and guitars combine with sax, sheet metal and deliberately broken guitars.
Whilst the style isn't new, it is delivered with significant with aplomb. Arms Around A Vision storms in with the foreboding and appropriately named Reticence, a track of two-halves that at first weaves a slowly coiled threat before unraveling to leave something far more loose and free-willed.
Recent single A Hunger Artist still feels effortlessly cool - it is the perfect snub, a coy little 'fuck you' tied up into a bow... Harsh strummed guitars aggressively drive forward as Cully sounds a little nonchalantly delivers his passive aggressive play. The screeching brass amid a wave of distortion creates a chaotic feeling that the whole song could fall over at any moment, making it all the more exciting in its slow building cacophony.
Closing with the pregnant and menacing I Was You, Arms Around A Vision crawls to a darkly cynical conclusion that also grants the album its title. Cully's vocals swoop around the nightmarish musical landscape before leaving the band to fade to black. An album that achieves much through style and attitude, even if it feels like there might not be much left underneath.
Arms Around A Vision is released on 2 October through Tough Love. Stream I Was You below and watch the video for A Hunger Artist: