The Murder Capital arrive as the latest in a new, hungry line of Irish rock bands giving the country – and its capital of Dublin in particular – a new reputation as a hotbed of vicious guitar music. The band’s debut single ‘Feeling Fades’, released at the start of the year, saw them peddle a similar kind of brazen post-punk as their fast-rising contemporaries Fontaines DC. On debut album ‘When I Have Fears’, though, it’s proven to be just one piece of the band’s jigsaw, fitting in to a record that’s rich, emotional and huge in scope.
‘When I Have Fears’, and the make-up of The Murder Capital down to their very name, can be traced back to the suicide of a close friend. “Every single one of those lyrics relates back in some way to his death,” the band say in a statement. It inevitably puts the entire record in a new dark light, its emotional moments given deeper, sombre meanings, and its outbursts of visceral emotion even greater weight and passion.
There’s plenty of furious bluster on the record – vocalist James McGovern sounds incensed on ‘More Is Less’, and ‘Feeling Fades’ remains a razor-sharp torrent of feeling – but maybe its most interesting moments come in the slow-burns.
“You could’ve watched it all,” McGovern sings of life after his friend on the frequently gorgeous ‘On Twisted Ground’, proving – as so many post-punk bands fail to remember – that just as much emotion and intensity can be transmitted with a lot less noise. Highlight ‘Don’t Cling To Life’ also sees the band brilliantly doing more with less. A sprightly skip of a gothic post-punk song, there’s undeniable darkness at its heart, but it’s also the most danceable song on the record. McGovern also proves himself a far better vocalist when he’s melodically singing than in the bellowed yells of ‘Feeling Fades’. ‘Don’t Cling To Life’ sees him far more James Murphy than Mark E Smith, and slot into the band’s make-up with far greater harmony.
“Failing this, let’s dance and cry so we remember why we die,” James sings in its urgent bridge before repeating its title in an anthemic closing, “Don’t cling to life, there’s nothing on the other side.” For a rallying cry to those closest to you to stay united and support each other through the darkest times, it’s pretty much perfect.