A problem which has hampered many a hotly tipped Irish rock band over the years has been the inability to transfer the bombast of live shows into a concrete record that sounds on a par with international standards. Thankfully, for The Murder Capital, the steady hand of producer Flood has insured that their debut sounds robust and sonically assured, without ever sounding anything but appropriately jagged.

‘When I Have Fears’ flows beautifully, precisely plotted and executed throughout with deft guitar swells and astute touches – such as the addition of cello on the outro of Slowdance II.

‘When I Have Fears’ should also serve to distance them from comparisons with their peers Fontaines D.C. as it has more in common with the bleak mid-winter of imperial era Cure and the angst-ridden post-punk of acts such as The Sound, than anything being produced in Ireland right now.

Lyrically, James McGovern sends postcards from the starkest outposts of the human condition. The mind can be carcinogenic to the human spirit and the vista is often uncomfortably austere, chaotic, frayed and despondent – even bordering on the fatalistic. There are echoes of Manic Street Preachers’ Richard Edwards in lines such as “The possibility of symphony within my tragedy.”

The funeral march of How The Streets Adore Me Now offers an unexpected nod to Tom Waits and a respite from the bombast showcasing the band’s ability to be dainty as well as dangerous when armed with a piano.

The Twisted Ground provides the most harrowing moment on the album with McGovern reflecting on a close friend’s suicide with the haunting refrain of “You could’ve watched it all.”  While Don’t Cling To Life will resonate with anyone who has ever found themselves in a situation where death would be a kindness to a loved one.

Back in January of this year, James McGovern told us:

“…people are either going to love us or hate us. Anything in between is in that world where you’re maybe not creating great art. Art should be sort of divisive, you know what I mean? We just want to make people feel something.”

Mission well and truly accomplished.

[we picked The Murder Capital as Plec Picks for 2019 – see feature here]