The Murder Capital – ‘When I Have Fears’

By Fiachra Johnston

The Irish alternative scene is thriving right now. Self-made and independent bands regularly pack hundreds of fans into cramped bars and local venues. Despite the loss of some of Dublin City’s most historic music venues, Irish punk refuses to go down without a fight. The house might be collapsing, but there’s a musical revolution happening in the basement.

It’s here where The Murder Capital live, screaming at the top of their lungs to be heard. Yet ‘When I Have Fears’ isn’t just rage and fire. It’s something softer, a cathartic exhibition of human emotion in the face of grief and loss. This is a debut album that is as patient as it is explosive, weary yet sharp and attentive to how isolating the human experience can be.

Where ‘When I Have Fears’ truly shines is when the band chooses to slow down almost to a crawl. While opening tracks like ‘More Is Less’, a swarming blitz of a song that focuses on the quiet revolutions we go through as youths, or ‘Green and Blue’, based off the work and death of photographer Francesca Woodman, are welcome additions to the album, The Murder Capital properly find their footing as they turn things down halfway through, as if to breathe. ‘Slowdance I’ and ‘II’ are a pair of tracks that say as much with wailing guitars as they do with the (nonetheless impressive) vocal performances of James McGovern, while ‘How The Streets Adore Me Now’ sees the band channel Nick Cave in a dark piano ballad that somehow fits right in with the rest of the record.

These quiet, melancholic tracks take up nearly half the album but they never overstay their welcome. Always feeling part of the whole, these songs seem to heighten the impact when things ramp up, such as how ‘Twisted Ground’, an almost ambient track suddenly leaps into ‘Feeling Fades’, an energetic anthem to unity in the face of adversity. The final track, ‘Love, Love, Love’, is a perfect combination of TMC’s aggression and pacing, and sums up the last forty minutes both sonically and lyrically.

The Murder Capital use their debut to try and say a lot. There are countless stories of love and loss and regret weaved throughout the ten tracks they share their souls on. At its core, however, is a rumination on grief, growth, and acceptance. It’s an album that attempts to show the emotional tethers that are, in their own words, “Shared by everyone and no one”, and it’s this storytelling ability that defines The Murder Capital as one of the most engaging and entertaining up-and-coming acts in the Irish scene.


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