- 26 May 23
When not all clouds are dark...
Across Mushroom Cloud, A.S. Fanning channels The Divine Comedy – the Neil Hannon version that is, as opposed to Dante Alighieri. I’m not going to lie, stuff gets dark: synths are doom-laden, strings screech, and Fanning’s cavernous croon recounts awful Orwellian visions, where practical advice includes tearing out your eyes.
However, Fanning’s chronicles come dripping with a tremendous gallows humour. Despite all the harbingers of scorched earth and nuclear Armageddon, this apocalypse is bearable – hell, at times, it’s even pleasurable.
Throughout a compelling album, the singer’s beast of a baritone quells a gloomy symphony of instruments, harnessing them into something strangely hopeful. Such as when the fuzzy blare that opens ‘Conman’ crystallises into a tribal digital mesh reminiscent of Telifís, with Fanning sounding similar to the late great Cathal Coughlan.
However, it isn’t plain sailing. The Dubliner now calls Berlin home, and the murky psychogeography of the German capital is manifest on ‘Haunted’. The country twang of ‘Sober’ channels Zevon, leaning into a hollow emptiness where “living young is getting old.” ‘I Feel Bad’ drips a catalogue of torment across an oddly catchy number.
‘Colony Collapse’ coasts through the “doldrums of melancholia”, where all-out catastrophe is imminent. However, by the time the listener is spat out on stellar album closer ‘Pink Morning – Magic Light’ – strolling a golf course at dawn somewhere in Sweden – against all the odds, you feel rather chipper.