Dublin is a bit of a rough and ready city. It is not a city of many airs and graces. It’s a city where, for either sex, a t-shirt, jeans and a pair of Converse – other casual footwear is available – will get you into nearly any club.
Then there are the places you can go though where doormen think they’re fashion designers. “Those shoes with that shirt? I don’t think so,” they seem to say as the subtext to “Not tonight.” Here, the men must be leather shod and collared, while the women will almost universally by heeled.
They are the posh places where the young urban professionals like to congregate. They seem like the cool places to hit up with one’s fake nails and Eau de Toilette. But if you scratch away at the nicely shellacked veneer, the illusion crumbles. The suave exterior is just a front for something hollow and banal.
Dublin band The City Apples’ ‘Mother’ EP is something similar. From the titular opening track the technical proficiencies of this the band are obvious. There is polish, there is precision, there are nice, dreamy melodies. But there is nothing sexy, nothing sharp, nothing exciting. Add to this some quite unusual lyrics – “I’m down in a hole/ I can’t tell my mother/ All of the dreams we left behind” – and you’re not really left with a whole lot to grasp onto.
The production on the EP is very good, even when put against the professional output seen right across the board these days. The opening chords of Never Saw it Coming bounce from left to right on the stereo in an interesting way. The problem is that, while the sound fills the ears, it never really occupies the space in between and the song overall comes across as just too self-pitying.
Clones – pronounced as the plural of clone rather than the town in Monaghan – opens almost like Guns N’ Roses’ Don’t Cry but never really seizes the initiative after that. The lyrics again fail with lines like “Sticks and stones might break her bones but words can kill/This is the world that is trending today” sounding like the words of a middle aged man trying to be ‘down with the kids’.
Flowers in the Rain is perhaps the best song here. It has a feel of an upbeat JJ72 number, with an Ash circa Charlotte Hatherley style guitar incursions here and there. There continues to be moments, however, where you really wish the four piece would step on the accelerator and commit to the sound, but brakes always seem to be applied far too soon.
The sound all floats around somewhere into the middle of the road. There the City Apples become a deer in the headlights. In aiming for technical precision, The City Apples have blunted their invention. There is nothing here that is going to make a listener sit up and take notice and nothing that will stay with the listener more than a few minutes after hearing it. It’s so clean, so precise, so exact. ‘Mother’ is just not very interesting.