Sixty seconds. As eerie guitar wails emerge as from a fog, making way for the thunderclap explosion of bass and drums that ushers in ‘For Everything’, sixty seconds is all it takes to know you are in the presence of something very special in one of the most exciting intros to a debut album for many a long year. “I am the underworld, the one you want to leave” warns James McGovern, his voice swelling like a preacher admonishing a particularly troublesome flock. This is the world of The Murder Capital.
Seeming to arrive from nowhere, the Dublin band were initially quickly lumped in with compatriots Fontaines D.C., as well as the likes of early tour partners IDLES. In truth, however, they are a different beast altogether. Operating firmly at the Joy Division and early-U2 end of post-punk, every track rips through on an inescapably intense groove led by Gabriel Paschal Blake (bass) and Diarmuid Brennan (drums). The sound is highly detailed and crafted, as evocative as McGovern’s lyrics are hard to pin down at points. A brutality in the atmosphere surrounds recent single ‘Green And Blue’, a grimly oppressive mood that stretches its tendrils through much here. The two-parted ‘Slowdance’ rumbles slowly along, surely pricking the ears up Shane Meadows for his next piece of beautiful heart-pricking misery porn.
Best of all is ‘On Twisted Ground’. Sticking wisely here to the heart-breaking live version, it still retains the power to freeze the hardiest of souls in their tracks as it claws at the emotions. That heralds the beginning of a stunning second side, the grief exploding into the fire and fury of ‘Feeling Fades’, before McGovern channels his inner-Tom Waits for the mournful ‘How The Streets Adore Me Now’. The Murder Capital may have arrived as if in a flash of lightning, but all the evidence is pointing towards that this is a band here for the long run.