Review Summary: The sophomore bump
The Murder Capital’s debut, 2019’s When I Have Fears
, was released to general approval but also drew frequent comparisons to fellow Dubliners Fontaines D.C., who had released their own acclaimed debut, Dogrel
, a few months prior. While given the timing, the shared city of origin, and the fact that both bands can reasonably be described as post-punk revival, these connections aren’t particularly surprising, I’d say they were a bit overblown. While The Murder Capital’s first effort had moments reminiscent of Fontaines D.C.’s sardonic sense of melancholy, these were interposed with a wider range of styles. Indeed, while When I Have Fears
demonstrated a band with obvious promise, it was its lack of coherence throughout the record which proved an Achilles heel.
That gripe is something that the band has remedied with their second effort. The Murder Capital are still pretty dark (they should be, with that name, after all), with a menacing edge and a touch of the Gothic. Gigi’s Recovery
summons up a grimy urban vision, if one tempered by frequent references to the skies, the sun, the moon, the stars. While this dichotomy might seem odd, it just works, bringing a kind of grandeur to the sense of grit which otherwise pervades. This balance dominates the album in other ways as well: the lyrics to “The Lie Becomes The Self” might be disturbing, for example, but the track’s instrumental ending is unexpectedly gorgeous. Meanwhile, “Return My Head” represents the record at its most straightforwardly catchy, but descends into abrasiveness by its conclusion. And while most of the release can be fairly characterized as downcast, a song like “Only Good Things” brings a jaunty beat and romantic lyrics while not breaking the general vibe. Together, the twelve tracks emerge as a textured and nuanced whole, rather unsettling but occasionally beautiful.
More than anything, I’d describe Gigi’s Recovery
as an “interesting” record. There are plenty of immediately-engrossing moments, like the dramatic vocal narration of “The Stars Will Leave Their Stage” or the rousing solo in “A Thousand Lives”, but mostly what I return for is the sense of development within songs and from one track to another. This is an album which manages to cover a lot of territory in under fifty minutes, even if the brief intro and outro tracks don’t feel fully fleshed out (my largest criticism). With any luck, this album will be enough to get The Murder Capital out of their more famous compatriots’ shadow and earn themselves a deserved place in the limelight of a resurgent post-punk scene.