Gilla Band – Most Normal

Gilla Band are in experimental mood on new album Most Normal, with an overwhelmingly high hit rate

Album Review by Joe Creely | 03 Oct 2022
  • Gilla Band - Most Normal
Album title: Most Normal
Artist: Gilla Band
Label: Rough Trade
Release date: 7 Oct

Gilla Band’s first album since their name change feels transformative in more than just this way, owing to the band’s move away from recording live and into the realm of studio editing. It leads to a record that is often superb without ever really nailing down a specific identity.

It’s a more sonically dense record for one; the cavernous industrial spaces that The Talkies conjured have been replaced, and in the early stages it's with a feeling of hurtling claustrophobia. Where their previous records often sounded like planes falling out of the sky, the first half of Most Normal sounds more like being in the cockpit, trying to wrestle control as the ground gets closer, never more so than on the nerve shredding, mechanical storm of opener The Gum. 

However, it’s the sonic variety in the album's latter half that really surprises. The Weirds giddily clangs together periods of swelling ambience, breakneck noise and a coda that is, heaven forfend, a bit on the jazzy side, without ever stumbling. Pratfall by contrast isn’t far from the digitally blown out ballads of latter-day Low, just looser, and melted on a radiator into a pleasingly troublesome miasma. That said, the overwhelming hit rate of these experiments means that when they seem to play it safe, as on I Was Away, the sense of treading water is particularly pronounced.

The experimentation extends beyond sonics. Dara Kiely’s lyrics are more immediately comprehensible than they have been in the past. This is of course relative, there’s still swathes of his trademark ability to marry the harrowing and the daft in his imagery. This deadpan surrealism was a cornerstone of what made those previous records great, but he manages dipping his toe into clarity superbly, nowhere more so than on the brilliant meta-reflective closer Post Ryan.

The record ultimately comes across as a series of experiments compared to the steely focus of their previous offerings, and perhaps in future will feel like a stepping stone record, but their sheer ability of songcraft means it never drags in its exploration.

Listen to: The Gum, The Weirds, Post Ryan