Sometimes an album comes along to elevate anticipation and expectations nurtured through previous releases far beyond what was imagined. Such is the case with Lily Of The Valley from Irish indie band Funeral Suits. Based on a trio of singles there was a keen belief that an album would match and please as much but there was no real indication of the unsettling mesmeric aural swarm that was coming. Individually the songs contained within the album are not strikingly better or worse than the already unveiled songs which also find a place on Lily Of The Valley, but as a whole there is a much deeper and absorbing experience going on than from songs taken alone.
Funeral Suits has created an album with on the surface an underwhelming diversity but with a deeply expressive breath, each track playing like a limb or organ within a vibrant emotive body. They have an intelligent and warming similarity across them but taken one away and there is a hole the others cannot fill, and given the fullest of focus one does find a beautifully crafted and imagined individuality to the songs.
From North Country Dublin the quartet of Brian James, Mik McKeogh, Greg McCarthy and Dar Grant has spent two years creating the album and that attention and time spent pours from each carefully and thoughtfully placed note, word, and passion. Released June 4th through Model Citizen Records and produced by Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur), the album is a stunning enveloping heart borne piece of composing. It does not arguably ignite the fiercest of fires at any point but rather wraps itself around and within mind and senses for a further reaching and fuller impact. From their 2011 debut single Colour Fade the band has gained an ever growing mass of devotees and acclaim. The further singles as well as shared stages with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Passion Pit, The Maccabees, and Local Natives plus appearances at SXSW, Great Escape and Reading/Leeds Festival the same year have only reinforced their increasing stature, something the album will surely explode in dramatic style.
The album opens with Mary’s Revenge and takes no time in capturing the ear with vocals harmonies and electronic waves of sound. The deep Tubeway Army like electronic melody is an instant beckoning as guitars scramble the air with their discord and impressive voice. The track is an exceptional electro pop song but with a bite and intent which brings deeper intrigue and an unsettling energy to its pulsating mass. By its end the track has overwhelmed the ear with a heavy whisper to elevate it wonderfully from just mere pop.
Colour Fade and Health, two of the previous singles come next, the first an immersive enchantment of simple heart and mesmeric beauty from vocals and music. The crystalline melodies sparkle against the thumping rhythms and niggling guitars for an undemanding but attention seeking piece of music. Health is very different, from its awakening atmosphere and flexing electro muscles the song stamps its authority across the senses with punchy rhythms and lingering acidic guitars. Both songs are the perfect entry point to the band alone but within the album gain an even fuller resonance and height.
Tracks like the newest single All Those Friendly People with its shadowed anthemic undertow, the emotive enchantment that is We Only Attack Ourselves with its wonderful dark stringed vein, and Stars and Spaceships are further highlights, though there is not a weakness or lull in the sweltering invention and consuming ingenuity anywhere. The third of these three is a mesmeric and equally disarming track which encapsulates the band and its impressive creativity alone.
Ending on the haunting and sinister I Still Love The High, a song of emotive grandeur seemingly disentangled from the sounds around it, the album is truly impressive and impossible to leave without at least one more swim within its warm beauty and darkened depths. Funeral Suits unveiled their promise with the singles, Lily of the Valley realises it and more for the most gratifying experience you could wish for.