I’ve never understood why there are some bands that consistently change their names. Take Will Oldham for instance, who has gone by his own name, Palace, Palace Brothers, Palace Music and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. And each time, it’s mostly, if not all, him doing the music. Skeletons and The Girl-Faced Boys is another band/project that seems to be on the path to an ever-evolving moniker. Originally called Skeltons, the group was one guy, eccentric electronicist Matt Mehlan. But on his newest release, Git, he’s expanded his project into a full-band, thereby adding the “Girl-Faced Boys” to the name, emulating Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Adam and the Ants, Benny and the Jets, et al. While one weirdo in the band would be plenty for most people, adding four more to the mix certainly stirs up the pot, yet makes for a delectable musical treat.
Somewhere between what has long been called “post-rock,” the kaleidoscopic danciness of Caribou, the ’80s electro-funk of Prince and the tribal abstractions of Animal Collective, Skeletons and The Girl-Faced Boys demolish the notion of genre, playing music built on imagination, grooves and really cool noises. At first, it’s a very peculiar experience, making for a confusing experience to say the least. It takes a few listens to warm up to it, but beneath those cool noises lies a record full of great melodies, complex arrangements and time signatures, and a magnificent color spectrum of sonic delights.
From the beginning, “See the Way” opens up a world of experimental sounds that somehow, miraculously, make for a melodic and enjoyable listening experience. Over a galloping, clanging percussion beat, Mehlan sings falsetto alongside quirky, electronic sound waves. The title track, contrarily, jumps into a completely different style. Here’s where the Prince comes in. Sounding like some Thrill Jockey remix of something off of Parade, SATGFB bring the funk like only an electro-nerd could. It’s pretty damn fun, whatever it is. “We Won’t Be Proud, No No No No,” is, unsurprisingly, something completely different altogether. Glitchy, malfunctioning robot noises interrupt a droning organ chord and voices singing in unison “we won’t be proud/we’ll just think you’re an idiot.”
After a four-minute long drone in the form of “There’s a Fly in Your Soup and I Put it There” (cool name!), clacking drums open “Y’all Thinks It’s So Easy,” a short, but cool-sounding Stereolab-meets-Funkadelic jam. “There Are Seagulls Who Live in Parking Lots” is the closest the band comes to The Sea and Cake, a group they’ve often been compared to in the past. However, the ominous siren-like melody of “You’d a Been Better Off” is one of this album’s most enjoyable and compelling tracks, a thoroughly strange and somehow accessible mess.
Skeletons, Skeletons and the Girl-Faced Boys, or whatever you want to call them, are doing something that nobody else seems to be doing right now, and that’s probably because nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing. They manage to do it remarkably well, however, managing to leave heads both turned and scratched at the same time. It’s a little crazy, quite frankly. But it’s just so crazy, it works.
The Sea and Cake – The Fawn
Manitoba – Up in Flames
Laika – Silver Apples of the Moon
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.