It is difficult to discuss Bleeding Heart Pigeons’ début, ‘Is’ , without being accused of hyperbole. This is because the record is so brilliantly put together (the album is mixed by David Wrench – FKA Twigs, Jape), so massive in scale and yet delicate in sound, so outlandish and glistening, that any descriptor or adjectives that can be used to describe it sound fluffed and false. As a record, it is simply too good not to eulogize. On February 12th, so early on in the calendar, we will be bestowed with what potentially could be an album of the year. And so, eulogize one must.
Previous EP offerings from the Limerick band have been nothing but impressive, with the incredibly catchy and weird Visiting Myself in Hospital a definite marker of their unique voice and ability. The trio have released enough material to garner people’s attention, and now with the announcement that they will be supporting Pixies for two of their Irish performances in July, the album is set to propel them into the forefront of Irish music.
Often tracks remind one of Damon Albarn’s more touching, wistful efforts, such as the album’s opener, Frozen. The sea-side ambience and delicate melodies stack atop one another and then change into a different beast entirely. In O Happy Happy Happy, the initial musical politeness climaxes into a synth solo which sounds like the beautiful murder of some sort of digital squirrel. There is wonderful progression in the tracks and a delicate strangeness. These are songs Peter Gabriel or Robert Fripp would be proud of.
There is a grace and wisdom found in Mícheál Keating’s lyrics which belies his age. It also helps that his voice is exquisite, as showcased on Anything You Want. Musically, song’s often build to grand, stirring finales, with previous melodies meeting and commingling, so that the listener is left roused and changed, as is the desired effect with good music.
It also helps that what the young trio are doing is unique. They are beginning their musical career with an initial creative momentum found only in other exceptional acts, such as Alt J or Radiohead. In a time when people are still reeling from the deaths of some of music’s true originals, at least we can find solace in the emergence of fresh, remarkable bands like this one.
In The Forest, I Feel Bizarrely More at Home will be familiar to fans of the band. It explores feelings of isolation and individualism, a motif often used in the group’s music. It’s an idiosyncratic, swarthy pop song which is melodic and catchy. Cathal Histon’s stuttering synthesizers and the rhythmic drums of Brendan McInerney come to the fore here. It is stare-out-of-the-bus-window music, the kind you listen to and don’t see a damn thing passing by.
Vapour, on the other hand, is molasses-music, slowly creeping and building, drenched in effects and angsty harmonies. ‘If you knew how much I’d suffered then maybe you might love me.’ It gives way to a creepy second half, reminiscent of the dark seventies or eighties. It’s an epic song, akin to Roxy Music’s In Every Dream Home a Heartache.
What is spectacular about this album is its diversity: Sister sounds as if The Phantom of The Opera has been pulled to pieces by Yeasayer or Trent Reznor. It’s an incredibly heartfelt song. Song With No Meaning is reminiscent of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees. Nausea is a combination of everything we have seen already: unusual lyrical style, stretched, delightful melodies, unpredictable time signatures and sprawling, vast progressions within the one song.
Fans have been made to wait for the band’s LP debut, and now that it is here, it has exceeded all expectations. It is impossible to heap enough praise on ‘Is’. It has the guts of Beck and the legs of Jonny Greenwood: a freakish offering of sweetness, angst and poetic laments. It is the most interesting record released by an Irish band in the last few years. If there is justice in music, and if people happen to be watching the Irish music scene (the success of Hozier seems to suggest that they are), then expect Bleeding Heart Pigeons to be the next big thing.
Bleeding Heart Pigeons’ debut album ‘Is’ will be released in February 12th on Virgin/EMI.