The Murder Capital: When I Have Fears (Human Season) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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The Murder Capital

When I Have Fears

Human Season

Dec 09, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Dublin's The Murder Capital are currently heading up a thriving Irish indie music scene alongside good bands like Fontaines DC and Just Mustard but here, on their box-fresh debut, the band mark themselves as entirely separate, unique among their contemporaries.

There's no denying their heritage—Echo & the Bunnymen, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Nick Cave, and The Cure all make referential appearances of a sort here, and in a UK scene that's recently rediscovered punk, prog, and jazz, sometimes simultaneously (step forward, Black Country, New Road) it may only be London's Crows and these boys who are doing their bit for the goth cause.

Yet there are no theatrics here one might associate with the performative side of goth—these are serious-minded young men—pretentious, certainly, but undoubtedly worthy of attention, and so we are left with the raw, exposed framework of their brutal, brooding music.

We have the wordless shoegaze apocalypse of "Slowdance II" and "Green & Blue," an opaque funeral shroud of a song; seemingly impenetrable, fascinating, compelling, and troubling. "With their wings flung, the choir sung their final song today/As the doors appear to clear the space in which she lay," bawls vocalist James McGovern. The keyboard coda haunts, closing as pitch-black a slice of somber new wave as we've tasted in a fair few years.

There's the upfront swagger and strike of "More Is Less," an absolute bar-fight of a song that pauses for thought in its barely contained middle eight before careering off into greater heights of sonic demolition.

Then there's the rolling thunder of "For Everything," Damian Tuit and Cathal Roper's dual cat-scratch guitars tense against the slanted spit of McGovern, the rhythm section of Gabriel Paschal Blake and Diarmuid Brennan providing the tribal primitivism of The Birthday Party before lurching into the monochromatic widescreen of Echo and The Bunnymen or, whisper it, Joy Division.

There are moments of doubt of course—this is the band's debut and as bold and brilliant as it is, it does have failings and, if the worst among them are McGovern's's tendency to slip occasionally from heartfelt lyricism into shady, high school purple poetry, then they're out ahead of most.

It's on the stark, utterly empty abyss of "On Twisted Ground" the clouds really do darken and weep. A Sebadoh-like lo-fi hymn to a lost friend of the band, it demands silence while itself being as close to silence as possible for much of its duration. "You could have watched it all," McGovern cries as the musical dams finally hint at breaking; it never happens—the frustration leaves a tangible taste in the mouth; it's pretty much perfect.

When I Have Fears is a hurricane of a debut, hulking, great, and darker than the night sky—while its lyricism may stumble occasionally one is left with a sense of having been through a legitimate, thrilling experience. (www.themurdercapital.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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