Saturday, December 13, 2008

10 Classic Irish Albums (2)

WHIPPING BOY - Heartworm (1995)

In terms of going against the cultural grain, Heartworm takes some beating. The year was 1995: Britpop was in full swing with all its attendant caricatures and satire; and while Blur and Oasis were going head-to-head at the top of the charts with songs about country houses and rolling with it, the Dublin four-piece released this brutal, uncompromising transmission from the heart of darkness.

An ominous, mournful violin intro sets the tone as opening track ‘Twinkle’ disguises it’s dark subject matter (‘turning tricks just like your mother’)with a seemingly clich├ęd chorus (‘She’s the only one for me / Now and always’), coming across like a cousin of R.E.M.’s classic anti-love song ‘The One I Love’. Influences like The Cure and Joy Division abound, with Ferghal McKee’s bleak delivery backdropped by violent, churning guitar and occasional stately strings. The subject matter is almost relentlessly dark, dealing with broken relationships and mental turmoil, even touching on domestic abuse on the controversial ‘We Don’t Need Nobody Else’. However, there are some shards of light breaking through the gloom: ‘Personality’ is a perfectly timed mid-album injection of serenity, while the bittersweet ‘When We Were Young’ gave them an unlikely radio hit.

Standout Tracks: Twinkle, We Don’t Need Nobody Else, When We Were Young

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