Girls on Film
Okay, so we’re a little late getting to it, and for that Ink 19 offers our eternal apologies. In 2005, Tallahassee’s own (yeah, I’m bursting with civic pride here, for once) Girls on Film released one of the best independent, local albums of that year in Danceteria. The packaging is gorgeous — the disc is kitted out to look like an LP (if only!), and the sleeve is a split homage to Duran Duran’s Rio, David Bowie’s Scary Monsters and Poison’s Look What the Cat Dragged In. Yeah, glamourtastic, you got it. The lyrics sheet is splashed with pink, their logo looks like a house ad for a Giorgio Moroder single and the inner photos show the band members dressed in pastel and looking like punk-assassin-secretaries (somewhere between Tron, Klaus Nomi and the Marvelettes), striking all manner of angular poses. Needless to say, it’s a fabulous visual united front. You simply can’t imagine them slouching onstage in jeans or being seen anywhere without a surfeit of neon, exotic drinks and Nick Rhodes spinning tunes.
The key musical reference points are early, cold New Order, Siouxsie and the Banshees (especially in Rio’s vocal delivery), Vince Clarke-era Depeche Mode, the aforementioned Duran Duran, Altered Images, the Cure circa “Love Cats,” Jem and the Holograms’ bete noire, the Misfits (big time) and Gary Numan. But Danceteria, despite all its visual bows and nods (even the title is an homage to the legendary nightclub), is no simple novelty game of “spot-the-influence” or some pantomime “eighties night” foolishness. No way. For one thing, Girls On Film’s commitment to their aesthetic and mission seems total and impenetrable, from the names (Rio, Kazhmir, Machine, Metro), to the matching pastel outfits down to the very fonts used on the lyric sheets… it’s the best robot gang since Tubeway Army.
And the music on Danceteria certainly isn’t a laughing matter at all, transcending their obvious influences with the addition of darker, more angular shapes of adventurous ’80s post-punk/electro — the brute minimalism of Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, Berlin-era Bowie, Siouxsie and New Order’s “Ceremony.” Top THAT all off with a serious dark-disco/funk backdrop and heavy, crucial bass work courtesy of Kazhmir paired to Machine’s metronomic drumming and the blessed absence of guitar. Metro’s keys tend toward the Vince Clarke one-finger economy aesthetic, but the eerie atmospheres contrasted with chirpy bleeps are way effective. Rio’s vocals are incredible; leaning more toward the nimbleness of Siouxsie Sioux, Claire Grogan and Bryan Ferry, a more commanding vocal style, almost goth, very dramatic, shrieking, swooping, hissing, trilling, threatening. (Check out her delivery on “Toxic Society.”) Lyrics cover subjects like love in a robotic age, technology, paranoia and dark, menacing nightclubs. The songs on Danceteria stick to classic single length and that’s how it should be.
This is a great start. I need more.
Girls on Film: www.girlsonfilm.nu