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ALBUM REVIEW: The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears

The Murder Capital 2019 Credit JustGrayce

Photo Credit: JustGrayce

The Murder Capital achieve two vitally important things with When I Have Fears. The first is an undeniably accomplished debut album. The second is the ability to make a prominent punk record that invokes a strong sense of feeling, without fully engaging in overriding breakneck drums and aggressive vocals of hardcore punk forefathers like Minor Threat or Agnostic Front

For Everything, as an example, opens with a few foreboding notes before giving way to a sinister riff and galloping drums that evokes a frantic quality, before eventually fading into the background to give way to the clarity of clean guitars, creating an exceptional contrast between the two parts of the track. Not only do The Murder Capital balance the light and dark elements with skilled precision, but they also somehow, and quite magically, convey a journey through the spectrum of human emotion. 

Apart from introspection, the second most obvious thing about When I have Fears is the nostalgic sentiment it invokes, like it could easily slot in between Joy Divisions Unknown Pleasures and Echo & the Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain. Especially so when songs like Green and Blue and Don’t Cling To Life clearly nod at post-punk influences, but you’d be a fool to think the Dublin quintet aren’t capable of taking that inspiration to mould into something that’s fresh and influential in its own right. 

Another crucially important aspect of this album, is the art. Here’s five guys from the streets of Dublin who have faced the difficulties of growing up, coming into their own, losing a friend, a mother and as a result becoming wholly submissive to their music for expression and comfort. Something epitomised in the bones of Slowdance II, where a large chunk of the song is purely instrumental. Soaring guitars, crescendoing cymbals and the swaying undertow of emotional vulnerability.  

A feeling carried over into On Twisted Ground, but this time in a minimalistic arrangement that showcases the strength of James McGovern’s vocals as he sings, “you could’ve watched it all” with a pleading note. 

Like For Everything, lead single, Feeling Fades, taps into darker elements instrumentally; menacing riffs that create an industrial backdrop to McGovern’s declarations and the rise and fall of drums, before it all comes together in a raucous climax in the final seconds of the song. 

How The Streets Adore Me Now, the record’s penultimate song, sees McGovern deliver a Johnny Cash-esque performance that’s unguarded, only accompanied by the low notes of a piano. In the moments between verses, the keys twinkle and as the melody eventually rises, so does one’s heart. 

Pregnant with tender inspections of human emotion, loneliness, pain and the freedom from it, When I Have Fears is a moving masterpiece that will no doubt be experienced differently by each listener. Irrespective of that journey, it’s an album filled to the brim with songs you won’t be able to shake for days after hearing them, proving The Murder Capital have stepped into the spotlight with their best foot forward. Robust, brooding and beautiful, When I Have Fears is the mortar in the rising tower of Irish punk. 

8/10

Standout Tracks: For Everything, On Twisted Ground, Feeling Fades

For Fans Of: Joy Division, Fontaines D.C., IDLES

Written by: Renette van der Merwe

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