2019 was an extraordinary year for post-punk, with bands like Fontaines DC, Girl Band (now Gilla Band), Crows, and many more shaping the genre and pushing guitar music in a broody, bleak and dark direction.
A band at the forefront of this movement was Dublin’s The Murder Capital. their debut album, When I Have Fears, was borne of tragedy, and the unrelenting, raw emotion of the lyrics and music bleed out of the speakers and into the listener. Intense anger and vulnerability pour out of the band in such a way that makes When I Have Fears almost impossible to follow.
Three and a half years post and The Murder Capital have returned with Gigi’s Recovery. From the outset of this record, it is clear that TMC are different; more mature and thoughtful, yet just as consistent. Gigi’s is sonically very different from its predecessor, with the band embracing layered soundscapes, a tasteful use of synthesized loops and electronic parts over the distinctly darker, riff-lead debut.
The record is a concept album, bookended by the cuts ‘Existence’ and ‘Exist’, which reflects the band’s journey. ‘Exist’ sounds like the group shedding their skin and emerging anew. In the first act of the record, ‘Ethel’ is a real highlight which showcases the “new” Murder Capital in the best way: they build this incredible song from a simple guitar progression, adding light percussion and vocals. The track grows slowly, with a kick pattern emulating a heartbeat, then bass, followed by the rest of the drum line. There are wonderful electronic fills and additions, which complement the bass, drums, and guitar-led instrumentation so beautifully. James McGovern (vocals) does exactly what he does best over the top: he pours his heart out in a way that is so unique to this band. The cut is a cornerstone of the record and a fantastic glimpse of what this band can achieve.
‘Ethel’ reflects the album as a whole. So many of these tracks build themselves as you listen, culminating in grandiose soundscapes with shades of post-rock making themselves known on some of Gigi’s winding guitar-led outros. ‘The Lie Becomes The Self’ is another standout, where the verse reflects the easy-listening style embraced by Arctic Monkeys on The Car, with simple percussion and piano-driven melody giving McGovern the space to express himself lyrically and vocally.
Admittedly, this record takes its time to permeate. Having fallen in love with The Murder Capital’s intense and thunderous sound in debut album When I Have Fears, the sonic sidestep of Gigi’s was unexpected. Still, upon further listens, this new offering seriously clicks. The Murder Capital has shown an entirely new side of their talent, moving away from big meaty riffs and exploring the more deft touch of winding guitar parts layered over one another: they’re expressive and heartfelt in the same manner, but their musicality is on another level.
A prime example of this record’s ability to seduce over time exists in ‘Only Good Things’. A somewhat underwhelming lead single at first glance, perhaps the bar was set too high by what came before. After a few listens to Gigi’s Recovery, however, it leaves you smitten – the way it breathes and pulses into life is formidable, heightened to another realm by the songs around it.
The sheer growth shown by The Murder Capital is impressive: Gigi’s Recovery is a beautifully paced and musically adept record created by a band unlocking brand new levels of artistry. The Murder Capital has shaken off their post-punk shackles with style, and the freedom has enabled them to scale new heights.
photo credit: James Kelly