Head here to submit your own review of this album.

While it's normal for bands and artists to change directions and styles as they develop their own unique sound, Northern Ireland quartet Girls Names on the other hand are a band who, up until recently, have suffered from something of a musical identity crisis. Although they started out making the kind of noisy guitar-pop that fit perfectly with the ethos of their label at the time, Slumberland, they weren't exactly satisfied with that direction, and, after releasing three EPs and a full-length album, they reinvented themselves as a moody and atmospheric post-punk band on their 2013 album, The New Life. Completely normal except where both that album and their 2011 debut Dead To Me fell short is that they felt like well-executed genre exercises rather than sincere artistic growths. Their third album, the appropriately titled Arms Around A Vision, doesn't exactly correct those mistakes, but what it does do is show that the band are finally beginning to find their musical footing.

Here, they continue to explore melancholic post-punk leanings and expand their basic formula of guitars drums and bass to include saxophones, organs, detuned broken guitars and pianos, and even sheets of metal assaulted with hammers, while also delving into post-punk's brighter danceable corners. 'Reticence' opens with a barrage of rumbling drums and spiky surf chords before settling into a tightly wound upbeat groove over which melodic guitars, pinging piano, and glistening keyboards create a rich emotional atmosphere. 'Desire Oscillations' continues in the same vein, slowing things down to a mid-tempo bounce with its quavering keyboards and fluid guitars giving the whole thing a slightly overcast feeling, while 'An Artificial Spring' hints at the same kind of weirdly accessible pop music The Psychedelic Furs were making on their excellent 1981 album Talk Talk Talk.

One thing the band still excels at though is creating dark and foreboding atmospheres, and where they really hit their stride with that kind of stuff is on the particularly sweeping and frankly brilliant 'Chrome Rose', where a sparse Joy Division styled intro gives way to a slow burning passage fleshed out by wirey and chiming guitars over which frontman Cathal Cully's bruised crooning is at its most melodramatic and also confrontational, spitting out back-handed lines like "I hate you all/You and your friends are no friends of mine" with an almost bitter conviction. As with their previous releases, Arms Around A Vision suffers slightly from lacking a style and sound distinct from its easy to spot influences, but where it also differs is that it marks the turning point where Girls Names are starting to figure out exactly what kind of band they really sound like.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.