It began life in 2006 as Stefan Murphy’s baby, but it’s been years since The Mighty Stef has existed as a solo endeavor. These days, Gary Lonergan, Brian Gallagher and Brian Farrell join Stefan to make up the bones of the group. They often become even mightier again when they invite other musical types, which have included Ronnie Drew, Shane MacGowan and Cait O’ Riordan, to add to their sound both on stage and on record.
‘Iveagh Flats’, a tiny three-song EP, is a precursor to their fourth studio album which was recorded earlier this year in the warmer climes of Los Angeles with Alain Johannes, him of Queens of the Stone Age fame.
Just sixteen minutes long, our first listen reveals that the tracks differ greatly in style, demonstrating the band’s versatility and experimental nature. EP opener, The Nightwatchman of The Iveagh Flats is vintage, driving rock n roll; its bass-line picking up shades of George Harrison numbers. Lyrically, it swirls through nostalgic imagery, both real and imagined, acting as a showcase for Stef’s impressive vocal vibrato.
Next up, Vampire, Hold Me Tonight sees the band in indie pop mode, recalling the Super Furry Animals on occasion. This track bursts with joy and affection and is made interesting with quirks like echoed vocals and fun lyrical adventures. An almost eight minute epic, The Hardship, is a hunk of woozy, symphonic rock which flirts with shoegaze somewhere around its middle, book-ended by gentler sections that nod to Nick Cave’s more sincere moments. It’s unexpected and captivating.
Our primary criticism would be that dishing out so few songs of this caliber is plain mean. This three-song sampler is certainly a teaser and has left us longing to hear the remainder of the tracks from their LA sessions, which we hope to get wind of sooner rather than later.