‘Boy On The Rocks’ is the debut release from Damsel fronted by Luke O’Neill. If you were eagle eyed enough at2015’s Electric Picnic you may have wandered upon O’Neill’s brand of dreamy pop at the Body & Soul stage. While a five-piece band in a live setting, it’s as more of a solo project for Luke O’Neill ala Villagers for Conor O’Brien.
Beginning inauspiciously with acoustic guitar strumming, gradually adding additional instrumentation before O’Neill’s plaintive vocal style kicks in. A Signal Sent, steadily soars as it progresses with synth and electric guitar traversing higher and higher. It’s an altogether satisfying beginning to ‘Boy On The Rocks’ and sets a lofty standard to maintain.
Through The Fells in comparison is sombre, lyrically oblique and sometimes morose with lines such as “can you hear the peasants pacing at the gates of Babylon/can you hear them chanting louder now/the towers are all gone”. Its mournful tone then takes a personality change halfway through it gains a sense of drama via the synth with vocals simultaneously becoming more anguished.
O’Neill switches things up again with the breezy pop of A break From Breaking Things. Elsewhere the guitars on The More You Know add a country twang while Rubber Knives And Socialites is a melancholic affair that feels more drawn than it really is.
The high benchmark of opening track A Signal Sent sets s difficult standard to maintain. And while the other four songs are perfectly competent, at the same time they don’t exactly blow you away. They do hint of great things to come and offer enough variety to show that O’Neill isn’t a one trick pony. ‘Boy On The Rocks’ is the sound of a promising artist with visions of an expansive sound that can only continue to grow.