MOJO Rising: The Murder Capital

MOJO meets Irish post-punks The Murder Capital as they prepare to make a different kind of killing.

The Murder Capital

by Andrew Perry |
Posted on

WHEN DUBLIN’S The Murder Capital scored a hit with their 2019 debut, When I Have Fears, they drew predictable comparisons with fellow countrymen Fontaines D.C., as well as another recent post-punk success story, Idles. But after over two years of merciless self-examination and reorientation, they’ve emerged with a follow-up, Gigi’s Recovery, which redraws the coordinates for this ambitious quintet.

“Whenever I’ve moved city, I look back at the one I’m leaving,” notes frontman James McGovern, who first convened the band at college – not as friends, but specifically to make music. “And almost as a form of defence mechanism for my emotions, I tell myself, ‘That place is shit, I don’t know why I ever lived there!’ I think we did a similar thing with the first record. We were so proud of it, but we were just like, ‘We can’t do that again…’”

Where …Fears “came with harsh, bleak sounds, because it was so directly about grief and loss”, this time The Murder Capital spent many isolated months in Dublin, Donegal and Wexford, then a further six in London, looking in on themselves to see what else was there. Guitarists Damien Tuit and Cathal Roper invested in a whole raft of FX pedals and synths, in an effort to supersede their old distortion-heavy world. “Atmosphere, texture and colour were almost all we spoke about,” says McGovern, who looked to Radiohead’s In Rainbows as a model for “intricacies which don’t maim the vigour and emotion of the music.”

For the thematic content, he had “this crime scene of lyrics up in my bedroom, all pulled-out pieces of paper from notebooks. I would rearrange them and stare at them. It was total obsession.” He read T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Paul Éluard’s love poems, also drawing inspiration from notorious rock poet, Jim Morrison, and listened to Frank Sinatra because “I wanted to be more melodic, and sing more, and distance myself from that aggressive post-punk delivery.”

The resultant 12 tracks were recorded in Paris (where else?) in early ’22 with producer John Congleton, and they fully capture the intensity and excitement of The Murder Capital’s transformative months, each following an unpredictable, non-linear logic, amid cascades of exquisite sounds and heart-bursting crescendos.

I definitely needed to change the way that I treated my own body and myself. 

James McGovern

Much of the narrative thrust to Gigi’s Recovery has to do with the band’s own collective coming of age. “I definitely needed to change the way that I treated my own body and myself,” McGovern admits. “Everyone had different issues, whether it was anxiety or depression – all these natural human conditions.”

After their tortuous process of internal scrutiny, however, The Murder Capital have bonded, and become friends. “It was the greatest thing that happened to this band so far,” their leader summarises. Even greater triumphs, you sense, lie ahead.

Fact Sheet

● For fans of: Radiohead, Gilla Band, Fontaines D.C.

● Covid dealt TMC a rare opportunity for an upcoming band to reassess their songwriting. “We spent a year and a bit in the Irish countryside, so there was a lot of time to really get to know each other. There were many things we had to confront personally, and as a band, which ended up directing the narrative of the record.”

● After their rustic woodshedding, the band sent demos to their management. “We were convinced we were finished, and they were like, ‘This is great, but it’s pretty fucking depressing.’ We’d been in the countryside for so long, we projected all of our lives onto these songs, and where they heard depressing, we heard optimism and hope! Moving to London for the last six months really put the pulse back in the record.”

● McGovern tested his vocal range at both the upper and lower ends. “I can get pretty fucking low now,” he laughs. “I like to see how far the Camel blues have taken me.”

Key Tracks

Only Good Things



The Murder Capital's Gigi's Recovery is out January 20 on Human Season.

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