By Izzy Parker
After gracing us with their far renowned debut album back in 2019, Irish phenomenon The Murder Capital had been relatively silent where new music was concerned. That was until July 20th, when the band set out on a seemingly new trajectory of joy and hope with fresh single Only Good Things, a song of a different ilk for them, but with as much substance and social relevance as ever!
Hailing from charming old Dublin, where there’s evidently something in the water bringing bands to prominence- think Inhaler, Fontaines D.C. etc- post punkers The Murder Capital formed in 2015. Made up of James McGovern on vocals, Damien Tuit on guitar, Cathal Roper on guitar/keys, Gabriel Paschal Blake on bass and Diarmuid Brennan on drums, they’ve undoubtedly been from strength to strength in recent years! Their debut album, When I Have Fears, obtained a place in the UK Top 20 at its time of release, as well as #2 in the charts back in their Irish home, and high praise from the likes of The Guardian, who named it ‘an outstanding debut from a great new band who play it like they mean it.’ Not only that, either- like many, The Murder Capital made an explosive return to live events this year, following their primarily sell-out tour in 2020, which saw them headline London’s Electric Ballroom. This summer, though, their itinerary included opening for Pearl Jam at British Summer Time, Primavera festival, Truck Festival and Waterford’s All Together Now, most recently. The remainder of festival season will see them as active participants, with Pukkelpop and Green Man still to go for the band.
A thrilling addition to this plethora of success is their new single Only Good Things. Produced by Grammy-award winning John Congleton, the bouncy track seems to steer the five piece in a new direction. Where we’ve previously heard a dark urgency within their brutal post-punk sound, Only Good Things seems to offer a more light-hearted take on the genre, and they have nailed it! Instrumentally, the staples of a Murder Capital song are all present- strong chords interwoven with chirpy keys and a beautiful fleeting feeling to it, but lyrically (and to an extent vocally), a new perspective has been crafted.
Even those first chords bring us an instant feel for the track- upbeat but with a purposeful tone. An introduction to the drums occurs, and then the vocals chime in pretty quickly, confirming what those first chords hinted; this is a band with a definite place in the modern industry. James McGovern completely reaches that sweet spot of edgy yet languid vocals, achieved acutely by predecessor Ian Curtis as well as their modern contemporaries, Black Midi and the like. This almost lamenting tone seems to be particularly prominent in this newest single, which branches out from the shout-ier style found on some When I Have Fears tracks. It’s more tuneful, a song fit for crowd singers, and, though it retains a degree of sobriety, I can see a festival crowd taking to it seamlessly!
As aforementioned, Only Good Things adds a new dimension to the talents and genre boundaries of The Murder Capital, especially lyrically. It’s a love song in its own right. It keeps the beautiful, intricately imaginative lyricism they possess, but in a lighter, purer way than ever before. Only as far in as the first verse, I’m hooked. It’s poetic, merging pathetic fallacies ‘the sun and horizon collide’ with hyperbolic pre-choruses ‘Blindly I share with you my whole world’. Though it’s a thrilling adventure of a song, it simultaneously takes you to a place of peace, if you are listening to it right!
This newly established calm is something we can expect to see carried through into their future releases. McGovern said “This is a part of the narrative of the overall record that we feel reaches a real place of inner calm, inner peace but at its core, it’s a love song. You get a song like this where, the protagonist in this song is quite simply asking – not pleading – just willing to ask their counterpart to rid them of their intrusive thoughts, the devils on their shoulders and to be truly vulnerable. We’re so excited to go to a place like this because perhaps it’s not what is expected of us… Where ‘Only Good Things’ stands within the record is at a moment where the sonic and the lyrical narrative especially, are of newfound joy.”
It is my feeling that a joyfully conceptualised song such as this one is exactly what audiences are looking for this summer, a light amidst the darkness of the last few years, and the prospect of a whole record with a similarly harmoniously thrilling drive is certainly something to look forward to! If you happen to be in mainland Europe in August, perhaps you can catch them at Lowlands or Pukkelpop festival, or for UK natives at Green Man in the lovely Brecon Beacons. Undoubtedly, there are great things ahead for these guys, so don’t miss out!
Photo Credit: Grayce Leonard