- 01 Aug 19
DUBLIN POST-PUNKS LIVE UP TO THE HYPE
It was always going to be hard for The Murder Capital to live up to their early promise, with the band finding themselves on a whole host of ‘ones to watch’ lists before even releasing a single. For a time, all music journalists were working off was a thrilling live session recording of their breakout tune ‘More Is Less’, and their concerts.
As such, it’s a pleasure to say that with their debut album, the group have actually surpassed expectations. Opener ‘For Everything’ is a statement of intent for the record. It begins with a minute of gloomy, measured reverb before exploding into a cacophony of sound. When I Have Fears operates in two modes: slow and atmospheric to hypnotise listeners, fast and pounding to make them thrash.
A minor issue with the album is that fans are already familiar with three of its most classically punk tracks – the singles ‘Don’t Cling to Life’ and ‘Feeling Fades’, along with ‘More Or Less’. That said, they sound even more relentless when coupled with the slower, sadder songs on the record, the juxtaposition part of the overall theme of When I Have Fears.
Speaking to Hot Press, Murder Capital frontman and lyricist James McGovern said that throughout writing and recording the LP, members of the band were dealing with grief. A sense of loss haunts the album – its songs fluctuating between anger and sorrow. The sparse, but constantly-building-in-intensity ‘Green And Blue’ conjures images of a funeral with lyrics like “With their wings flung the choir sung their final song today/ As the doors appear to clear the space in which she lay.”
The more tender yet similarly powerful ‘On Twisted Ground’ takes this motif further. In his gravelly baritone, McGovern sings his side of a conversation with a deceased loved one: “Oh my dearest friend, how it came to this/ With your searing end into the abyss.” It should be noted this is only my interpretation: a strength of The Murder Capital is their enigmatic poetic lyrics (the record’s title is derived from Keats). They feel somehow deeply personal to the band, while mysterious enough that listeners can project their own experiences onto them.
The subject matter could seem morbid. Yet, there’s enough slivers of light and beauty amongst the darkness. The cello coda at the end of Mogwai-like instrumental ‘Slowdance II’ is gorgeous, sounding like a classical composition. Meanwhile ‘How The Streets Adore Me Now’ is a stunning piano-driven ballad, which sees a broken McGovern (as evident from his low register on the song) reach an angelic epiphany, learning to live with loss.
On ‘More is Less’, McGovern shouts: “If I gave you what you wanted/ You’d never be full.” He’s got a point. One album in, I can’t wait to see what this band does next.