not a member? click here to sign up
Dublin Suit rocker delivers masterpiece for second album
Roisin Dwyer, 03 Feb 2009
“Nine to five has eaten us alive,” rues Stefan Murphy in his anthemic riposte to the daily grind, ‘Downtown’. Spector-like in its grandeur, replete with Arcade Fire-esque harmonies, this sweeping composition is a compelling opener.
100 Midnights is the second confection from the Dubliner, which follows on from the lauded Sins Of Sainte Catherine. It’s a dramatic collection of multigenre songs, impressively arranged and luxuriantly crafted.
From the country swagger of ‘Sunshine Serenade’ to the Klezmer stylings of ‘I Swear I Have No Feeling For That Girl’ via the hearty sea shanty ‘Nelligan’s Guts’, each is moulded with the versatility of a learned composer.
Elsewhere more wistful territory is explored in ‘Russian Roulette’ with its melancholic canter, downbeat vocals and sombre harmonies.
A variety of influences are also alluded to; ‘Golden Gloves’ brings to mind a ’50s rockabilly prototype Nick Cave, with its swinging melody and gritty vocals, and the title track conjures the ghost of Jacques Brel with its playful accordion and waltz-like time signature.
Lyrical prowess shines in the first of two duets ‘Safe At Home’, which deals with a troubled mother-son relationship. Their difficulties are also mirrored in the incongruous vocal styles, Cait O’Riordain’s sweet tender pleas contrasting sharply with Murphy’s terse, powerful retorts.
The second, a heartfelt reworking of ‘Waiting Around To Die’, featuring an in-form Shane MacGowan, is a tribute to the genius of its author, Townes Van Zandt.
There’s a fearlessness on 100 Midnights, both in the vocal delivery and the territory explored. It’s testament to the skill of the songwriter that so many different styles can be incorporated yet a sense of cohesion still be maintained.
The closing ‘A Pretend Sailor’s Goodbye’ is a delightfully quirky, sentimental ditty with a rousing singalong chorus and a smattering of handclaps for good measure – a perfect ending.