a2578123603_10With so many bands choosing, for whatever reasons, to leave the country and try their luck elsewhere, we’re now in the somewhat strange, maybe even sad situation that some of the most promising Irish music is actually coming to us not from these shores themselves, but from more distant ones. The Dying Seconds are a case in point. Originally from Dublin, the six-piece outfit relocated to London where, in a tunnel under the Thames and at home in Brixton, they recorded their latest release, four-track EP ‘Panacea’. It’s a sweet little collection of very pretty and heartfelt songs which stands out in its simplicity and craft.

The band has been in existence, in some form or another, since 2007, developing a recognizably warm and engaging sound in that time. With ‘Panacea’, they’ve moved away from earlier, more electronic influences to showcase a live, acoustic feel driven by guitars, piano and gentle strings. There’s a subtle power to the music; it’s never loud or forceful enough to blow you away, but lets its delicate melodies and the obvious care with which it was put together win you over instead.

From the moment the play button is hit and 10-4 kicks in, it’s hard not to draw admittedly lazy comparisons with The National. The lead singer’s voice follows the same low, resonant and measured tones of Matt Berninger, with the band weaving similarly melancholy tales of love and heartbreak over a mellow guitar and barely there strings and piano. Competitive Learning, an alternative version of a track appearing on their 2012 album ‘Glimmerers’, does little to shake off the likeness, building up, National-style, towards a fervent and symphonic end.

It’s a style The Dying Seconds do very well and, despite the easy connections, feels more like their natural approach to music rather than a direct rip-off of anyone else’s sound. Saying that, the more dynamic Hunting Rabbits and Panacea do stray away from that slightly, showing off the more interesting potential of the band. The spirited ascension of strings, horns and drums in the latter brightens up the EP and offers its most lively fare, while Hunting Rabbits, with a foreboding piano opening and later choral arrangements, is a short burst of gorgeous melodrama.

The four songs of ‘Panacea’ mightn’t be rocked with innovation, but they radiate a familiar, comforting charm which highlights the talent and attention clearly put into making them. With an album to follow later this year, it’s worth keeping an ear out for this band and discovering what developments they make from the London underground.