An eclectic electronic ending
After a remarkable journey, it looks like the Girl One And The Grease Guns story may have reached its conclusion. Transmissions From The Glass Factory delivers the final batch of tunes recorded at their Glass Factory studio on this 6 track mini-album release.
Apparently, as with the earlier Transmissions From The Glass Factory 12” release (see our review previously) these tracks were originally destined for a series of 12” white label releases. Instead, the remaining tracks have been gathered together here and presented as a sign-off for the band.
As such, it acts as a companion piece to their 2017 album Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances. But while that album bounced between experimental electronica and more pop-orientated outings, Transmissions From The Glass Factory seems to be more focussed on the latter. There’s still some of that garage electro approach from earlier releases, but in general the tracks here throw a nod to everything from 60s girl groups through to nods to New Order.
Musically, Girl One And The Grease Guns still seem to lean towards the starker electronic outfits, such as Silicon Teens and Crash Course In Science. But there’s more warmer elements drawn into the mix that lends Girl One a wider appeal.
As ever, the CD is issued in a striking pop art sleeve styled like a 60s B-Movie poster (care of Jon Aldersea/Goldphone Creative Media). This retro approach to design and presentation has served Girl One well in the past (particularly as it’s a cool retro approach rather than a “Who remembers Spangles?” approach).
Opening track ‘(It’s) A Warning Sign (Blue Lights)’ offers a composition that combines raw electronics with touches of Hooky-style bass guitar and reedy synth sounds. There’s an urgent quality to this composition, contrasted by the whispery vocals that offer up an ‘ambulance ambience’.
There’s a crunchy electronic structure to ‘Destination Yesterday’, whose lyrics delve into musings on the human condition with lines such as “My spirt’s broken/It can’t be repaired” and “I won’t blame myself/There’s always someone else.” It’s topped off with a warm synth melody offering a gentle pop quality.
Meanwhile, ‘Noise And Fury’ presents one of the album’s finest moments. Originally a tune from label stablemates The Blanche Hudson Weekend, It’s an electropop wonder infused with 60s girl group goodness and some New Order guitar flourishes. The transition from the original’s fuzz guitar thrashout to electropop bop is inspired, demonstrating perhaps that good tunes can evolve into other forms. Meanwhile, the lyrics deliver an ode to outsider attitudes (“I can’t help the way I am/I guess you’ll never understand”) as an organ-fuelled melody bounces back and forth.
Similarly, there’s some neat organ licks on the bubblegum pop of ’The Multiplex (Is No Good For Me)’. “I’ve never planned for the future/I’ve always been such a loser” is a wonderful line on a song that ruminates on the fraught world of teenage dating.
Of course it wouldn’t be a Girl One release without something a little more disconcerting, which is served up in fine style by the electronic cacophony of ‘Run Scared From Eyeballs’. An ethereal vocal wafts in and out over the stark electronics of this busy number.
The album closes with the pop gem ‘Turn It Around Again’ (which originally appeared on Girl One’s Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances album) in its 7″ mix guise. As stated in our previous review, the Mellotron-esque chords here wouldn’t be out of place on early OMD. It’s a wonderful tune that somehow encapsulates everything that sums up Girl One And The Grease Guns.
Despite reaching a logical end to their recording adventures (although this certainly wouldn’t the first time their retirement has been circumvented), the true identities of the talents behind Girl One And The Grease Guns remains as puzzling as ever (although members of The Blanche Hudson Weekend could offer some hints for the right money). But for now, it’s a fond farewell to Sissy Space Echo, Warren Betamax, Charles Bronson Burner, Bruce LeeFax and occasional Grease Gunner, John Cassette-vetes.
Transmissions From The Glass Factory is out now on Next Phase : Normal Records.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.