When I Have Fears – The Murder Capital


When I was 7 years old I had a dream.

A nightmare.

I lived in a small town in West Lothian, halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A council house.

There was a toilet downstairs, a sitting room and a kitchen.

Two bedrooms upstairs.

In my dream I am standing in front of the mirror that hangs above the sink in the bathroom.

Behind me is a ghost.

A near cartoonish spectral figure.

Like a melting marshmallow.


Two large black holes for eyes.

It isn’t nice.

The vision of that figure looming behind me haunts the seven year old me for weeks afterwards.

One day, at school, it all becomes a bit much and my teacher, Mrs Flemming, decides the best way to deal with a distraught child is to remove me from class and place me in a room at the end of the corridor.

The school has a long corridor.

Long to a child.

Like the corridors in Kubrick’s “The Shining”.

As I sit in that room staring down the corridor I am convinced that “he” or “it” is going to appear and start stumbling towards me.

Now forty years later I can still see it.

Still feel the fear.

When I have fears that is what I fear most.

The Murder Capital know something about fear.

They know what lies beneath.

Theirs is a sound refined by the darkest corners, the edges, the fringes but infused with an energy and purpose that throws light on the shade.

A Dublin five-piece who could have come from anywhere.  It is a universal sound…the sound of frustration, anger, hopelessness, despair and a relentless desire beating at the heart of it all; a desire to make sense of…it all.

From the opening track “For Everything” and its Bad Seeds roar, angular, disjointed, maudlin, poetic thrust, dance and swoop it is very clear that we are dealing with a band who are destined to be clutched close to the heart of everyone who has ever felt the fear, felt the ache, felt the pain, felt the frustration of life and love and lust and loss and…on and on and on.

“Green and Blue” puts me in my adolescent bedroom sat, hunched, over my cassette player.  Gingerly placing my newly purchased copy of “The Script of the Bridge” by The Chameleons inside and pressing play.  The same rush that swarmed over my broken heart and delicate frame at sixteen as “Don’t Fall” filled the room is here, so many years later, as I listen to this.

It’s not all retro from the get-go with The Murder Capital, there are hints of the likes of Interpol, Idles and The National on songs like “Don’t Cling to Life” with its post-punk, punk, art-pop funk.  It takes a genuine talent and a willing to rise above your influences to make the listener feel that they recognise something and yet still be completely affected by the sense that everything is new.

It is obvious too that everything here is sincere.

There is art but no artifice.

There is craft but no craftiness.

There is an honesty and a purity at the heart of everything you hear.

“Love Love Love” is all the evidence you need to convince you of that.

The sound of a man falling and not laughing.

That man, and that voice, belong to James McGovern and those who have staggered through life relatively unscathed by the more hurtful obstacles that litter the path should be thankful but should spare a thought for the torment that has helped him to produce something as awful and beautiful as this song.

The whole album is bathed in an existential dread but manages to avoid becoming pretentious, patronising or unlistenable.  It is, in all honesty, a special record by a special band.  That you can jerk, dance, sway, sing along and avoid the skip button from start to finish despite the subject matter says much about the musicianship of everyone involved.

Instant pleasure from an instant classic.