This month has seen a last gasp goal by John O’Shea in Gelsenkirchen and a Budget for 2015 in which the price of a pint stayed the same. Has there ever being a better time to be Irish? Reminding us not to get too carried away with ourselves are A Lazarus Soul, who on their latest album, ‘The Last of the Analogue Age’, paint a fairly bleak picture of modern Ireland.
Disillusion and dissatisfaction are most certainly the order of the day on the band’s fourth album. Addiction, death, prison and the loss of national identity are just a few of the topics covered. It’s our loss of national identity that seems to grate with singer Brian Brannigan the most. “Middle Ireland is in decline/where fake is good as genuine” he croons on Midday Class. On The Kingdom Divided he hits even harder “The emerald isle has forsaken and forgotten us”. Yes, it’s fair to say that this band isn’t buying into the Celtic Phoenix quite yet.
Brannigan’s anger at contemporary Ireland is matched only by his nostalgic yearning for the Ireland he grew up in. On Lights Out he delivers a beautiful tribute to his former school, evoking memories of fist fights at lunchtime, smoking cigarettes on the sly and playing football until dark. Mercury Hit A High is even sweeter, a surprisingly chirpy love song about a summer romance of yore. We Know Where You Live is his most poignant lyrical composition, a rumination on the simplicity of the Finglas he grew up in and the complexity of the one he knows now.
While the lyrics are the most prominent feature of the album, the music isn’t without merit either. Granted, the band keeps things simple but the ‘less is more’ approach fits well. The Smiths are on obvious influence, as We Know Where You Live owes much to the Johnny Marr school of guitar playing. Whipping Boy are a clear inspiration too, both lyrically and musically in fact, with The Future’s Not Ours particularly indebted to their fellow Dubliners. There’s more to their repertoire than indie though. The album is bookended by two spoken word compositions, both of which are stirringly atmospheric. The electro tinged Ghettoblaster is an even further deviation, a song that comes with an ‘Achtung Baby’ era U2 vibe.
A very fine album, ‘Last of the Analogue Age’ marks a career best for A Lazarus Soul. Most of the credit should go to Brannigan, who’s lyrical prowess make this an essential listen.