“The evolution will not be compromised” – that was the mantra that Dubliners The Murder Capital recorded their second album ‘Gigi’s Recovery’ under. If they’re smart, they’ll stick it on a t-shirt too, but it really cuts to the core of the leap that the five-piece have made. The band’s 2019 debut ‘When I Have Fears’ was released as the Irish scene was blowing up along with fellow capital-dwelling noiseniks Fontaines D.C. dropping their first album, all the while Shame were cleaning up and IDLES were making waves off the back of their breakthrough ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance’.
Frontman James McGovern recently told NME how the band’s “identity early on was formed around the idea of pushing against everything and seeing what friction that created”, while never feeling “wholly represented” by the scene around them. They’ll forever be mentioned in the same breath as the above bands, but they deserve credit for forging their own path and taking a bold leap into the unknown here.
“Strange feeling I’m dealing with, I can’t admit it – I’m losing grip,” warns McGovern on the pensive and mournful opening soundscape ‘Existence’, before the tortured and woozy ‘Crying’ sees him ask “Is this our way to escape? Our way through the gates we built? Is this our end?” From there, the album starts a journey of introspection, self-analysis, discovery and recovery, via an adventure in sound.
The most exciting experiments come in the form of the mortality-questioning dark electro of ‘The Stars Will Leave Their Stage’, the kaleidoscopic mid-section of ‘The Lie Becomes The Self’ and the skittering Radiohead-indebted ‘A Thousand Lives’, all while McGovern questions if he’ll ever be “enough”. You can still find a searing punky edge on the cathartic ‘Return My Head’ and The Birthday Party meets Iceage gloom of ‘Ethel’, but it adds to a more widescreen mood. The end sequence of ‘We Had To Disappear’ to closing track ‘Exist’ via ‘Only Good Things’ and the title track completes the arc of self discovery with an increasing lightness and the tender final number finding McGovern a little hard-fought peace: “I’ll stay committed, I’ll make it stick. This morning I took ownership – to stay forever in my own skin”.
The Murder Capital may have arrived with a shout and a fist but they’re soaring now with nuance, ideas, a whole lot of heart and the first great guitar album of 2023. Anger is an energy, but love is strength.
- Release date: January 20
- Record label: Human Season