As The Murder Capital gear up to release their second album, the band have discussed how the heavy emotional toll of their debut record directly informed its follow-up.
The Dublin post-punk group will return this Friday (January 20) with Gigi’s Recovery, the follow-up to their acclaimed 2019 debut When I Have Fears.
The first album won plaudits for tackling the suicide of Irish musician Paul Curran – who also inspired the debut album from musician David Balfe, under the project name For Those I Love.
Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, frontman James McGovern explained how the lyrical weight of that first record directly impacted their approach this time round.
“That record was so directly about grief, loss and how you process those emotions. But at the beginning of writing this album, it felt like anything we wrote didn’t have the same weight,” explained McGovern.
“That was because writing about Paul’s death and processing that was such an intense experience for us. The grief and loss we’d experienced had us looking so deeply into the past, especially when it’s suicide and you’re forced to look into what could have been different.”
But as the title suggests, the band have now managed to see things from the other side – referenced in the titular recovery of their second album.
“Recovery by definition is turning to a place of strength, so it’s about looking straight into the future and seeing where your capabilities lie in shaping the things you have control over,” said McGovern.
“But sonically too, there’s naturally going to be a change and evolution, it was at the forefront of our process.”
That process of recording began when the band battened down the hatches in 2020 and spent time recording together in Wexford, a fishing town in southeast Ireland.
“This record is very much about the self and the relationship with one’s self. How looking into the future allows you to see what it is you want from life and how to effect that kind of change,” he said.
“It’s an introspective record, but one with great moments of joy, hope and possibility within it you know? That narrative became clear as the writing went on. At one point in Wexford, I started writing all the lyrics and I’d put them on my bedroom wall like a crime scene investigation. It meant I could really see how it was all coming together.”
Further recording came when the band spent time in London, after experiencing some to-the-point feedback from their management team.
“A year and a half into the record we thought we were finished writing it, feeling like we were at a point of being ready to record,” said McGovern.
“But we sent it to management and I think their words were that we’d ‘set a new standard for depression’. We didn’t feel that way at all, but we were so alone and physically so isolated that we projected so much life onto it. When we went into London, the pulse of the record began to change and that is really reflected on this album.”
It’s evident on the sound of the record. Early track ‘Crying’ sees the group putting a subtle shoegaze-y twist on their post-punk sound, while ‘We Had To Disappear’ is among their most emotional and stirring tracks to date.
“This record ends with the song ‘Exist’ and it’s about taking ownership of yourself in order to enjoy your life. But there’s plenty of other touchstones along the way about,” adds McGovern.
“Another track called ‘The Lie Becomes The Self’ reflects the brutal honesty needed to affect change in one’s self. Looking at your shadow in order to find yourself.”
But at the centre of the record is the title track, the strongest reflection of where McGovern finds himself in 2023.
“It was written in the form of a letter. Writing a letter and burning it is one of the most powerful things you can do, to say goodbye to the details of what you’re trying to change,” he says.
“In the last few years I’ve tried to change as a person. To change my relationship with drugs, alcohol and making major changes. I’m waking up every day and choosing a life that is creative, full of vigour and possibility and going down that pathway has emboldened the relationships in my life. The human experience can be so rich and fulfilling when you stop and actually look in the mirror instead of dodging it.”