Sounds Of System Breakdown’s defection to London is a genuine loss to Irish music. The Costello brothers and lively partner in crime, bassist Richy Kelly, have turned their focus to building a rep across the water; as well as putting together newly released album ‘Nomad’, which has done nothing to put off the implied genius of regular comparisons with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. Their set up, admittedly, is somewhat heavier on the electro hooks and occasionally wonderfully localised in its vocals next to the former scene leaders, and tonight – ‘Nomad’’s Irish launch – will only enhance the love-in they attract across increasingly wide circles.
For an album launch, in fact, tonight is surprisingly heavy in its focus on the band’s older, Dublin-centric debut. Ten Pack Of Johnny Blue is a bounce along teenage throwback, while closer The Band Played is arguably still the strongest song the trio have, building to a crunching crescendo of a chorus and cringe-tastic epileptic fits on the dancefloor. ‘Nomad’, though, is deployed sparingly, with even EP ‘Colour’ given a decent outing by comparison. The stand out track from the newbie is single Neon Contrails, a track that sounds like Kasabian’s Fire, only doused in shape-throwing bleeps and eccentric, funky changes of direction.
The main asset remains what it’s always been, though: the full-on energy of the live show. A second drummer adds depth to an unannounced opening loaded with pulsing energy, making for a colorful addition, but the vibe is all Sound Of System Breakdown’s own. The motherly looking group in the heart of a boisterous crowd are the only slightly sedate corner to the Grand Social, pausing their nod-along only to comment on the ‘all the mothers on Prozac’ line to ‘… Johnny Blue’, but with Rob and Richy firing on all cylinders and Rob’s dance-guitar moves having stepped up into ‘Foals’ territory, this is nothing if not fiercely entertaining.
In fact, there’s almost a rave element to the way this band performs. Sure, it doesn’t come in the music or in the stage act, but in the sense of unbridled energy the show induces, building to pumping highs in tracks like Electrolysis and Mood Enhancers, and in the crowd-hyping dynamic that comes from Costello’s frequent trips into the heart of the Grand Social’s adoring crowd. The feeling is the same as Sounds Of System Breakdown have often evoked: that much like local heroes Le Galaxie, it’d only take one Dublin show with a thousand punters and they’d be strutting their stuff to densely packed rooms for the foreseeable future. This is a local brand of hero-worship waiting to happen.
As for the album, ‘Nomad’ is not so much a step up from their aspirationally exceptional debut as a compliment to it, playing the junior partner for the opening part of the set tonight but adding a more personal angle to the sound next to the band’s traditionally observational direction. The lyrics are exceptional, both in terms of their colorful view on life and the poetic license in blending journeys literal and metaphorical. With that dance-punk edginess growing to great effect, let’s hope London knows what they’ve gained.
Sounds of A System Breakdown Photo Gallery
Photos: Aisling Finn