“If you must write prose and poems, the words you use should be your own. Don’t plagiarize or take on loans”
Given that he coined the above lyric it would be interesting to hear what Morrissey makes of Dublin’s Death In The Sickroom, a young band who, to put it mildly, wear the influence of the outspoken troubadour firmly on their sleeves. Their debut EP, ‘Brick To The Face’, certainly blurs the lines between homage and pastiche with the four-piece borrowing very heavily from the Smiths back catalogue. So while the results do not make for the most original of offerings, it is still one of the most promising debut EP’s released in Ireland this year.
Proceedings begin with Tonight, a song that comes with the novelty of been the only track on the EP that doesn’t sound anything like The Smiths. This one lies closer to Manchester’s other greatest band The Stone Roses, its chiming guitar sound very much from the John Squire school of playing. In addition to its guitar sound this song features a fantastic melody and a huge, infectious chorus. All combined it makes for an excellent opener.
With the first song out of the way the band dive head deep into Smiths tribute mode. Despite the brazen lack of originality both Plain Jane and Brick To The Face are songs of very high quality. The latter is two minutes of delicious jangle pop that’s features some exquisite 12-string guitar playing. The former is darker and more menacing. The lyrics, as evidenced by the name, are similarly bleak with the singer Mark Heffernan painting a picture of urban decay. If it all sounds a bit too much like the Smiths, take solace in the fact that the lads haven’t followed Morrissey down a path of celibacy. “I’d take you home to bed/but never home to mammy” sings Heffernan on Plain Jane.
The band continues with the same formula on The Last Days of School, another slice of melodic jangle pop. While similar to what’s gone before this one stands out over anything else on the EP. What makes it special is the irresistible youthful exuberance it carries. Even if you’ve long left school you’ll appreciate this one. It’s followed by Billy No Mates. Slower than the previous four songs, it’s the least immediate song on the EP and a strange choice to finish on. Nevertheless it isn’t without its charms, the band once again demonstrating their ability to churn out melody after melody. Not only that but they manage to name-check Oscar Wilde, a reference that might even make Morrissey smile, if such a thing is possible.
They might not have reinvented the wheel and their worship of The Smiths is about as subtle as a ten tonne truck but this is still a fine EP. It you’re a fan of melodic indie pop it’s certainly worth a listen. Where they go from here should be interesting, based on the talent displayed and based on the assumption that they grow into their own shoes you wouldn’t bet against them causing panic on the streets of Dublin in the near future.