The Murder Capital – When I Have Fears (Human Season Records)

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The Murder Capital are a relatively new band from Dublin who you’ll typically see referred to as part of the same “scene” as other new-ish UK bands like Idles, Shame, Fontaines D.C., and the like. Their debut album, When I Have Fears, is two weeks old as of this writing, and it already seems like the band may be on their way to success. The press reviews have been good, they’ve got a big management agency in their corner (Qprime), and the album was produced by Flood, who has helped alternative acts like Nick Cave, New Order, The Killers, and Smashing Pumpkins reach a wide audience among many others. I fully understand the Murder Capital’s immediate appeal. After all, people are always hungry for young guitar-driven band, and the band’s early singles, “Green and Blue” and “Don’t Cling To Life”, seem to be worth the hype; but some serious foundational issues make When I Have Fears a better short-term proposition than an album you’ll be itching to listen to years down the road.
Singer James McGovern addresses a lot of heavy issues with his lyrics, like life, death, fear, and dread; yet he and the rest of the band approach these topics in such a grey and monochromatic way that it becomes a chore to swim through all the joylessness. Treating every moment like an opportunity for serious soul searching only works in The Murder Capitals favor when applied to a fleet-footed song like “Don’t Cling To Life” – perhaps the catchiest tune written about the death of one’s mother. Other songs, like “How The Streets Adore Me Now” and “Slowdance I & II”, are just dull. Still, let’s save our vitriol for “On Twisted Ground”, which really should be a difficult song to hate since it’s about a friend’s suicide; however, it elicits grunts and groans over its lifeless six-minute runtime simply because it sounds a lot like “Glycerine” by Bush, a miserable song most people were perfectly happy not hearing since the mid-’90s. These overbearing moments are plentiful, and they dilute The Murder Capital’s strengths.