Heralded as the first great guitar album of the year, the Dublin band's second album lacks the momentum of city contemporaries Fontaines D.C.
When it comes to The Murder Capital, there’s an elephant in the room.
And it’s one in the shape of Fontaines D.C.
It’s hard not to make a lazy comparison between the two bands. They’d both hate to be branded punk poets, a genre only seemingly given to Irish bands. It’s as if there’s an industrial warehouse next to the Guinness factor in Dublin producing fiery romantic guitar acts on a conveyor belt.
That’s obviously not the case. They’re both just extremely talented musicians who happen to be on the go at the same time and from the same country.
Fontaines have a slight advantage. On the go a bit longer than The Murder Capital, they’re three albums deep into a career that’s propelling them to global stardom.
But The Murder Capital don’t want your sympathy. They want your attention.
They first got mine at a TRNSMT festival on one of those rare sunny Saturday afternoons. An intriguing name, decent sound, quite impressed.
While their debut album When I Have Fears might not have made a massive impact on me I was neither the less hopeful for their follow-up Gigi’s Recovery.
Album opener ‘Existence’ sets the scene. It might be slight but it’s filled with menace. “Existence fading,” growls singer James McGovern.
‘Crying’ stays around longer and thankfully so. It builds up into a frantic assault, McGovern chanting “I will wait for you,” as the rest of the band pound away to keep up with him.
The pace doesn’t let up with ‘Return My Head,’ the type of anthem that’s set to ignite the dance floors of indie discos everywhere.
Released as a single last year ‘Ethel’ could well be their best track. “You better get it right, Once chance at this life,” snarls McGovern and you believe him.
Unfortunately, the album doesn’t maintain the momentum. There’s a shift in tone and style. Sombre offerings like ‘The Lie Becomes The Self’ while demonstrating a tender side take the edge off proceedings. ‘Belonging’ is another where the band expose their heart. It’s just not one that beats as exhilarating as some of the other numbers.
It may not be quite The Killers and Hot Fuss with a superior first half to all that follows but there is a feeling of a team desperate to win a penalty shootout by sending out their best spot kick takers first.
McGovern's vocals shift from an Iggy Pop drawl to a theatrical delivery throughout the album. It almost keeps with the feeling of two different offerings in one. He has a presence about him that will endeavour him to many.
‘We Had To Disappear’ returns to the atmospheric grandeur of Joy Division while ‘Only Good Things’ hints at a poppier side that could see them break into the mainstream.
It ends with another short offering. ‘Exist’ leaves with the mantra “Existing changing,” before fading out.
You can’t fault their effort. Like their compatriots who we won’t mention, The Murder Capital give it their all and put it into everything. Performance, record, visuals.
It’s been heralded by some in the music press as the first great guitar album of the year. With it being released before the credit cards bills depicting the Christmas spending have arrived it’s not much of a compliment.
However, it does have its moments. Ones that will make you listen to it again over the next twelve months. Ones that will find their way onto Spotify playlists by the end of the year. Ones that will make you forget about the elephant in the room.