Cabra-based Kojaque is firing on all cylinders with his triumphant latest release, ‘Town’s Dead’. Following on from the success of 2018’s ‘Deli Daydreams’ EP, his debut album is comparatively sprawling and fantastically well-paced – 16 tracks that tackle love, grief and the deep human desire for a few extra quid without a single ounce of filler.
Kojaque’s flair for storytelling first demonstrated on ‘Deli Daydreams’ has reached an impressive peak here. Envisioned as a concept album that chronicles a rapidly unravelling love triangle on New Year’s Eve, most of the context is given via short skits – echoing shouts from a mate telling him he’s going to miss the countdown, awkward voicemails and bizarre accusations of cheating – ”why would Domino’s text ye to say he loves ye?”
New Year, Who’s This? is a masterful comedic interlude – a cacophony of indecisive young men trying to work out where to go on the piss, with a constant nagging voice in the background begging for a shot of the aux cord.
Heartbreak jolts wildly from sparse instrumentation into a dense electronic arrangement. Pitched-up, speedy vocals transition into aggressive spitting as Kojaque’s mood flips back and forth, he pointedly criticises the state of his home – “city full of fuckups, city smells of piss”. It’s an effective, chaotic tone-setter.
The eponymous Town’s Dead is a freeze-frame of a young population stuck in a limbo of extortionate-and-rising rent prices and the ever-alluring prospect of emigration – “You could try the house share, try rentin’, bit of money for the landlord’s pension, heads are gonna roll soon, no warning, this town’s not dead it’s just dormant”.
Kojaque’s venomous, frenzied bars are contrasted with a sample from Girl Band’s equally frenetic Going Norway, making it a fast-paced standout that truly captures the sense of wanting to keep loving your hometown, despite the crushing knowledge that things could be so much better.
The unashamed cockiness displayed on tracks like ‘Shmelly’ leaves him with a prime opportunity to show off his trademark tongue-in-cheek, acerbically clever lyricism – “never been tall, scrap like a child soldier”.
Despite the presence of these laugh-out-loud lines, Kojaque is an expert when it comes to deftly weaving genuine emotion into his music. A deep and palpable world-weariness is hidden behind his bars, even when he’s putting up a blatantly swaggering exterior.
No Hands is the most candid and blunt track on the album, as he poignantly describes coming to terms with the loss of his father and his anger at Catholic perspectives on sin – “No, I think we endured enough suffering, without the thoughts of my father left buffering”
‘Town’s Dead’ is fantastic from start to finish, a sonically impressive and varied release that acts as a deep cut into Kojaque’s intriguing mind. It’s a release that’s hand-tailored for the generation stuck “in a box room til the box push daisies”.