- 17 Oct 14
CAREER BEST FROM DISAFFECTED DUBLIN COLLECTIVE
The news that A Lazarus Soul are releasing a new album is to be greeted with joy but also a certain amount of trepidation. As Hot Press’ grandmother used to say, you’d want to be in the whole of your health when listening to Brian Brannigan’s toxic tales of society’s cast-offs, its disaffected, its forgotten.
At the deliciously twisted heart of A Lazarus Soul beats a social conscience every bit as strong as that which drove the late, lamented Whipping Boy. A Lazarus Soul share the same anger and sense of injustice at the Ireland we live in. Thanks to Joe Chester’s production, these songs feel like the most technicolour of Brannigan’s career – somewhat ironic, as he looks back at the sepia tones of his youth. Indeed, much of this fourth album was recorded in the assembly hall of Brannigan’s old school, Patrician College in Finglas, which closed its doors for the last time earlier this year.
There may be only eight tracks, but nobody will feel short-changed, such is the the ferocity of the songwriting. It opens with the punch to the solar plexus that is ‘Midday Class’, a dirge-like kaleidoscope of rumbling effects, over which Brannigan croons in the style of an old school Dublin balladeer about hangovers, All-Ireland finals, redundancies, socks, jocks and razor blades, even managing a Yeats pastiche with the lines: “Middle Ireland’s in decline/ Fakes as good as genuine.”
The Smiths-esque melody of ‘We Know Where You Live’, complete with its stunning video, is about growing up in an area where most of his contemporaries ended up “dead or on the inside.” Then there’s the heart-aching ‘Last Seen’, the chiming guitar of ‘Mercury Hit A High’ and the military tattoo of ‘The Future’s Not Ours’, while Brannigan’s falsetto on ‘This Divided Kingdom’ sounds not unlike Cathal Coughlan in his Fatima Mansions pomp.
“This is the sound of the cold-hearted truth, the sound of the disaffected youth,” Brannigan intones in a sombre baritone on ‘Ghettoblaster’, mixed by the great Lee Scratch Perry; the guitar rattles and scratches over Julie Bienvenu’s tribal drumbeat and pulsing bass from former Future Kings Of Spain stalwart, Anton Hegarty. Uneasy listening, certainly, but also a career best that firmly cements Brian Brannigan’s status, alongside Barry McCormack and Sean Millar, as one of Ireland’s most criminally unsung lyrical heroes.