Review: Money – Suicide Songs

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80%
80
Uplifting

Otherworldly music, its vision and beauty mostly compensating for its rougher, very regional edges.

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One would expect a town of Manchester’s musical pedigree to fetch up gloomy, uncompromising indie gems as if the end-times were upon us. The lack of results here has been puzzling, but it also permits the savouring of those precious few talents when they do eventually show.

Comparisons to The Smiths and Joy Division have typified the reception to Money’s creative output since the band’s first appearance on Granadaland’s alternative scene in 2011; such trite analogies do them very little justice. Their infusion of sullen, ambient soundscapes with some seriously hypnotic vocals makes for a truly special experience, more akin to an early Mogwai or the raft of American slowcore acts (Low, Codeine, Cat Power) that saturated the ’90s indie market than anything Money’s old stomping ground has produced in living memory. The new album’s title implies Radiohead-lite bluntness, but there’s real elegance and, yes, gooiness here simmering just below the pan-lid.

The opening track, ‘I Am The Lord’, comes closest to living up to the heritage vested upon Money by the sad boys’ club that is modern rock journalism – Charlie Cocksedge’s trance-inducing guitar noodles smack elusively of ‘Ceremony’, New Order’s tear-jerking swansong to the genius of Ian Curtis. From here on out, we’re into uncharted territory. ‘I’ll Be The Night’ is the nonstalgic poeticism of Neutral Milk Hotel forced through a woodchipper (“When I was a child, I made a deal against the sun / That if it died out, that I would carry on”); the music video, an Elbow-esque montage of uninspiring pub fare and witty banter, is wholly unbefitting to the utter crankiness of the song. Jamie Lee is an easy frontman to understate – ears ill-attuned to Money’s older work might dismiss his voice as that of a tavern-singer, but its roughness conceals a heartfelt depth seldom found in indie rock. His reflections on alienation and wasted youth, at their most lucid and novel, are refreshingly personal.

Suicide Songs is bound to be trying on the listener not already well-acquainted with this particular, rare genre, and it has none of the consistency of Money’s first LP, The Shadow of Heaven – Lee falls into an out-and-out drunken stupor in the last few tracks (the inexplicable ‘A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year’ is to be avoided at any cost). It crashes and burns far better than most albums, however, with its overall dreaminess, the primary selling-point, never abating in a way the able musicians behind it would not otherwise have willed.

Suicide Songs is out now via Bella Union.

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Desperado, social scientist, pop culture aficionado and occasional dabbler in journalism.

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