Album Review: The Murder Capital – Gigi’s Recovery
With a first album that took the darkest shades of Joy Division & Fontaines DC, synthesized them down into a thick elixir and covered it from track to track it goes without saying that When I Have Fears, The Murder Capitals debut, was a memorable one, but a lot has happened since then. Outside of music we have seen three Prime Ministers, two Monarchs, one pandemic and I can only imagine about 18 Watford managers? The world has changed, it’s become darker, more chaotic, something that I find hard imagining when applied to TMC’s debut but one could only imagine what they were cooking up in the wake of the last 3 years, an almost stunning time to wait to release a sophomore, especially in comparison to post-punk peers, the likes of BCNR and black midi seem to be spitting out perfect new projects to quickly to properly applaud. And yet here we are, its 2023 and finally The Murder Capital have decided we are ready.
You could tell in the build-up and release to their debut that many found it easy to stick the band with the Fontaines flag and leave it there, something that must have been eternally frustrating. Gigi’s Recovery feels as much of a departure way from Fontaines DC’s current state as possible in almost every aspect. Where Fontaines have embrace and advertised their Irish heritage, almost as caricaturish as any number of Oasis releases, The Murder Capital have put out a thoughtful nationless heartbreaker. Feeling far less dark than their debut, but still possessing a knowing bittersweet look, much like at the end of Lost in Translation, the production throughout feels completely alien to so many post-punk release of the 2020’s so far. At times, to me, it almost felt like pop, or at least their interpretation of pop, something that many post-punk peers seem to have turned their noses up at in the last few years. If you’ve come here looking for the When I Have Fears 2, or Skinty Fia 1.1 or Unknown Pleasure 807 you are in the wrong place my friend.
Bookended by Existence and Exist, two short cuts that thematically and sonically tie the LP together better than I was expecting but that leave little left in the memory the album really begins with track two, Crying. A slow burning 5 minute track that has the bass barely audible in the mix, in almost complete opposition to what has become industry standard in the genre. The track instead is fronted by unrelenting snares and a brilliantly hopeless vocal take that finally explodes with a minute to go into a whirlwind of screeches wails and chants.
To me perhaps the most beautiful track on the album kicks off the mid-section, Ethel. “I always wanted it to be like this for us, strung out on love” opens the track and is only preceded by even more wonderfully hopeless romantic quips on the back of an ever ascending instrumental, like a march up a mountain in what the listener knows is going to be a peak that is worth every step, and then it comes. Though I may not be fully on board with shouting ‘baby Ethel’, to me a name you can only possess above the age of 78, the crescendo serves the song brilliantly and makes it the stand out track of the LP comfortably.
The band go on to experiment with varying degrees of success, though never really putting a foot considerably wrong. Stars Will Leave Their Stage is a great example of this, with its futuristic feel mixing fine with Murder Capitals more traditional sound but never rising up much higher than commendable on the bands part. Belonging occupies a similar bunker in the albums no mans land, again commendable and certainly listenable, but perhaps not something to put on repeat. That being said I think a lot can be said about this album being more than the sum of its parts overall. Much like the debut, the Murder Capital have proven they know how to make an LP and experience in the face of the ever-dominant proceedings of the playlist generation.
The Highlights of the back half are with the single, Only Good Things and title track Gigi’s Recovery. The later taking its time to close off the album in a similar way to how Crying opened it, maybe not in name but in spirit. Vocals are brilliant on every track but the crooning that waltz through the misty atmosphere, like a mashup between Singing in the Rain and John Carpenters The Fog, really goes someway in convincing you that though the experience that you are having is coming to an end, it will be one that you won’t forget in a hurry. I couldn’t be happier that The Murder Capital have graduated from The School of They Sound Like… and tattooed their unique artwork on the hairy female chest that is modern post-punk, I even look forward to accusing bands of stealing their sound, the highest compliment I can think of giving the band after this beautifully hopeless album has had its time to sink its claws into any struggling creatives ears. The band are no longer in anyone shadow, in fact have proven that they can cast a fucking big one on their own.
Gigi’s Recovery will be released on 20th January via Human Season Records