Thursday, November 30, 2023
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The Murder Capital – Heart in the Hole Review

Through brute force and sheer willpower alone – working through the backlog of tracks and tunes yet to be covered from this year is doable. Stopping off to pay a visit to The Murder Capital, whose early release this year, Gigi’s Recovery, still finds itself played on a loop while pasta boils in a large safe-turned-kitchen, is a treat. Heart in the Hole, their latest single – either a loose extra or a chance to kindle progress for the future – is an expected delight of a track from the post-punk rockers. Still pushing on and staking their claim in the genre, The Murder Capital is pooling together a fine list of songs, and Heart in the Hole can join in with no trouble or change necessary. A firm contender for one of their finest – and a hell of a release to round out the year.  

Everyday and reactionary objectives can be found within. The acts of watching movies and heading out for drives sound so secure yet troubled when paired with acoustic and bluesy tones from frontman James McGovern. Whether this and Flex, the lead single from the upcoming album from Courting, are meant to draw similarities with The Killers’ hit Mr. Brightside is something worth flagging. As bands begin to find themselves trying to secure their next big hit – it makes sense to bring about tender thoughts of regret and the big nights out which are now passing them by. It all relays a club classic style, though the acoustic tenderness keeps The Murder Capital from slipping away into this paradoxical parody.  

Instead, the rise and build of a stripped-back McGovern and subsequent instrumentals surrounding his vocals are a refreshing break from Gigi’s Recovery. This is not a “well, we forgot about this one,” act. It is instead a moment to appreciate the range The Murder Capital presents – a band that has grown since their first release just four years prior. Plugging away since their When I Have Fears days, the strength of Heart in the Hole comes from its lyrical play and subsequent percussion display toward the end. Clashing cymbals as the neediness of the protagonist begins to strip the good faith built in those first few minutes, the repetition of the title track, it all comes to a wonderful and explosive head stylised more on The Murder Capital listeners know and love.  

Whether this leads on to a new and relaxed form of The Murder Capital is yet to be seen. It still features the thump and heart of their earlier works but in a lighter flourish – a fixation on twanging instrumentals and broader strokes of guitar work. McGovern is on top form not just with his vocal performance but lyrics relaying worries of familiar strangers and the party time atmosphere. You reach an age when parties are not pleasures but fears – the idea of being somewhere unnecessarily loud and warm when better ideas and plans are unfurling elsewhere in the world. How far can you take it? Heart in the Hole dares to ask and where it may not come up with an answer, it leaves plenty of space for a listener to answer their desires.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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