From time to time a sound comes along that will catch you off guard. It catches you off guard because of your own perception. To put it simply, it is not what you have come to expect based on the genre with which you are dealing, nor from what you may have read with regard to the style of something new.
Sometimes, not often, an artist or band will emerge and challenge you to forget what you think you know about the genre in which others will place them. Perhaps they have a sound unique enough that they don’t need to be labelled as anything other than themselves.
Sometimes, not often, a group will emerge, unassuming yet oozing chemistry and charisma.
Enter Sean Corcoran, Barry McNulty, Dylan Casey and Alan Holmes. MOSCOW METRO release their debut EP Spirit of a City on April 14th, and believe me, you will sit up and take note of this Limerick quartet.
The band’s elevation has been swift, progressing from early rehearsals in a tiny storage warehouse which reverberated with sound vibrations, to making serious waves through outstanding live performances, illuminating Ireland’s fiercely competitive music circuit.
MOSCOW METRO are not afraid to push the boundaries of presentation either, showcased beautifully by the video for lead single Spirit of a City. It’s stunningly poignant; it’s intense and graphic yet incredibly thought provoking and will transport you into the realms of the almost hypnotic. Simply put, it gets the message well and truly across.
The element of surprise comes with the depth and perfect aptness of every lyric coupled with a tone of voice that allows Corcoran to captivate. The EP held me spellbound from start to end.
It becomes clear that the pool from which the band draws its inspiration is a deep and diverse one, allowing them to explore those subjects which would otherwise remain taboo. Dark themes touching upon social tensions, the emptiness following loss and the aftermath of a failed relationship makes the EP, and in turn the band, completely relatable.
Lead single Spirit of a City sets the tone by cruising effortlessly into an early non-stop crescendo. It remains melodic yet deep. The track is perfectly delivered by that beautifully haunting voice, which maintains the tone throughout whilst brimming with diversity and the built up energy of potential. It’s ready to be released, explored and enjoyed.
Future Fades arrives by way of an almost soothing, dreamy and reflective intro. The song takes a backward step to offer an observational overview of the search for escape- Of wanting more than what’s on offer. It’s another powerful concoction of chords and soul. It’s a foot-stomper, catchy and addictive, but in that warm, euphoric sense, contradicted beautifully by Headlights. Here we have a change in tempo. The track starts at a lower tone, but soon builds seamlessly into the same level of energy as what went before.
For me though, the highlight here is Where it ALL Ends. This song is both beautifully dreamy and intensely reflective. Having grown up in the suburbs of a large, bustling and industrial city, this track just clicked with me. It carries a feeling which more than hints at the autobiographical, taking a fitting and in depth look at life in its current location, exploring the question; is there more elsewhere? It flows with the tensions of what may be reluctant escape.
All the ingredients are here. In terms of length, tone, lyric and delivery it really is quite simply as close to perfect as you may see from a debut EP. But what sets this young band apart as they navigate their way through the minefield which claims so many, so early? Well, I discovered that all eight feet are firmly planted on the ground beneath four level heads when I got the opportunity to pose a few questions to the band.
LADIM: Your debut EP Spirit of a City is released on April 11th, it’s pretty high in energy! Is this a theme we should come to expect from MOSCOW METRO?
SC: Yes, I do think you will come to expect high energy from us.
LADIM: I have to mention the video for lead single Spirit of a City. It’s incredibly graphic and packs a punch. It compliments the track beautifully. Do you write music with images of a potential video in mind?
SC: Thank you. No, we don’t write the music with images of a video in mind, it’s the other way around. When we were trying to create a concept for the video for Spirit of a City we would listen to the characteristics of the song and draw the imagery from there. In this case we knew it was important to enhance the contrasting elements of the song in the video, e.g. Girl dressed in white, an immaculate image portrayed, which is contrasted by blood pouring over her. We knew the image would be striking. It is also left open to interpretation, and the story line is perpetual. We wanted to portray that idea that what was happening was cyclical as the lyrics of the song suggest. There is imagery on the video which connects with every song on the E.P really and I think that thematic connection is something you will also come to expect from us.
LADIM: Your sound is quite unique here in Ireland. From who, if anyone, would you say you take inspiration?
SC: Yes, our sound is quite unique here. To say where inspiration is taken from is often difficult to pin down. Musically, people can hear bands like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, The National, The Joy Division, someone mentioned the Go-betweens but everybody will hear something different. It depends on your knowledge of music and your frame of reference really. Your average person will come up with The National usually, because they are contemporary. Then people with a greater depth of listening will hear influences of a band like The Can or Asylum Party. On a wider scale however, we take inspiration from our social environment; Film, literature, poetry. I was watching Jim Jarmuschs’ Down by Law and a scene when Tom Waits is being arrested inspired a musical idea. Something similar happened with the film Abre los ojos but that’s just an example, usually something you experience in life will resonate within you and invariably be reproduced in what you create. Joe Strummer always spoke about ‘no output with input’ and that makes a lot of sense to our process.
LADIM: The energy of your music means it must translate superbly when you guys perform live. How much of an influence does audience reaction have on your performance?
SC: Thank you, but that depends. The soundman is always the hidden hero; you can leave it all out there but if the sound isn’t right out front, then forget it. We have always found our best live shows are when we don’t really care about the audience. As in, we just play and become immersed in it ourselves. Maybe when we are frustrated or angry, it’s hard to say, but when we become unaware of the audience it has usually produced the best audience reaction and is when the audience have connected with us the most. It’s a strange psychology.
LADIM: I’ve seen you described as ‘haunting’ and ‘uplifting’ in the recent past. How do you feel you’ve evolved as a band ahead of Spirit of a City’s release?
SC: The Spirit of a City E.P is the release of the first songs we wrote together and we plan to release a second and a third E.P this year, kind of like The Beta Band did and The Pixies are doing now. So our releases are chronological in terms of writing. We spent about a year writing new material and exploring different ends to the spectrum. Currently we are focusing on capturing momentum in our music. So the ‘high energy’ in our music that you mentioned is something that we are honing in on even more so. The music that we are currently writing and set to release is still ‘haunting’ and ‘uplifting’ and still works off our signature sound, but its momentum we are out to capture next.
LADIM: I’m quite addicted to Where it all Ends. It could be set in any city, but I have to ask, is it written through personal experience?
SC: Thanks again. You could say it is, and it could be any city. It could also be Limerick city. It’s about a girl who feels trapped by where she lives and her situation, and doesn’t really feel anybody can help her. It’s written from the point of view of how that person might feel, and in that expresses how I might feel in her situation.
LADIM: You’re described as being an Irish post punk band, and yet your lyrics carry perhaps a more meaningful, almost reflective message than what we may expect. Do you feel that your music could set the tone for future acts of the same genre?
SC: Yeah, we have been described as post punk revival/shoe gaze, it may be stadium new wave after the next E.P, who knows? Yeah I think we could influence future acts but it depends on if they pick up on what we are doing. I would like to the think the Irish music scene would become a little more meaningful in its message. At the moment I would say that our sound isn’t very popular within the Irish music scene, but the reaction we get from people who do connect with our music is extremely positive, and that’s a lot more rewarding than being a fashion band. The wheel has always turned in music, just when culture seems to be at its most superficial, people look for something real.
LADIM: Finally, what does the future hold for MOSCOW METRO?
SC: We are playing a show in the Academy in Dublin on April 10th and the very next day our E.P is released. We have more Irish shows to be announced after that, and in May we are off on a German tour. We will be playing festivals in Berlin, Nuremburg, Mannheim and Dortmund so we are looking forward to the experience. We haven’t released a lot of material up to this point and we plan to change that this year with the release of two more E.Ps after Spirit of a City. Now we really just want to release the music we are creating, nothing really matters as much as that.
So, good news indeed for Irish music and music fans in general as MOSCOW METRO step up their onslaught. Stay tuned for upcoming live dates and releases, in the meantime Spirit of a City, the debut offering from the band that look set to freshen up Ireland’s music scene, is available from April 11th.