Skeletons and The Girl-Faced Boys: "Git"

For those who thought Mobius Band's City Vs Country EP represented Ghostly's most extreme move into pop territory, take note that “Git” pushes the concept much further. Following two solo outings, the album is the latest outing from Shinkoyo co-founder Matt Mehlan (hence the joint release) under his Skeletons moniker, this time newly joined by a full-time backing band The Girl-Faced Boys. While a faint trace of The Notwist creeps into the vocal on “There Are Seagulls Who Live in Parking Lots,” Skeletons & The Girl-Faced Boys clearly differentiates itself from others by pushing pop experimentalism to its limit. How to describe the group's sound? Words like eclectic, angular, oblique, and eccentric spring to mind as one struggles to characterize the band's frenetic noise-pop and non-sequitur approach to lyrics.

The group believes in nothing as straightforward as verse-chorus-bridge arrangements; instead, its songs are full of unexpected U-turns. Consider: in less than five minutes, “We Won't Be Proud, No No No” segues from an opening section of squelchy synth squirts and vocals over an organ drone to fractured piano-vocal pop, on to noisy chanting (“We won't be proud / We'll just think you're an idiot”), then scraping, dissonant guitar soloing in 5/4 backed by squealing synths before a final reprise of the vocal chant. While the effect is impressively dizzying, it also makes it difficult to get a coherent handle on music that's stretched in so many directions.

While the neo-soul synth-funk and falsetto vocals of the title song might retain some commercial appeal, the phantom voices, disheveled choruses, and anguished moans that drift through “There's a Fly in Your Soup and I Put it There” suggest that the band's interests extend beyond sales figures. Certainly there is wide stylistic range. The closing flute section of “There Are Seagulls Who Live in Parking Lots,” for instance, sounds positively Stravinskyan but, at its close, “You'da Been Better Off” appears, a scintillating noisescape of squalling guitars, flailing drums, and barely audible vocals. Even a vocal-piano ballad (“While We Were At the Movies”) is given a bizarre twist with the inclusion of dental drill electronics. The longest piece “Do You Feel Any Better?,” an excursion into burbling electronic dub that eventually morphs into a field setting of bird chirps and plane sounds, hardly makes concessions to accessibility. Needless to say, Skeletons & The Girl-Faced Boys' avant-pop makes for thoroughly exhausting and not always easy listening. The uncompromising and challenging “Git” packs so much dense detail into its nine songs that its 38-minute length seems just about right.

July 2005