February sees the release of Making Circles of Our Own, the new album from Irish outfit NEW PAGANS. It is the highly anticipated follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed debut album, a release which set a formidable benchmark for its successor to live up to. From the seeds of temptation to the besieging of the imagination, the best way to describe the impact of the new encounter, it is a release which from gentle but firm persuasion subsequently tunnelled deep beneath the skin.
As we mentioned, The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All was a striking first album from the Belfast hailing band, plaudits coming in worldwide. It was a certain wake-up call to the quintet’s prowess with their reputation cemented and escalated again as the band undertook a European tour with SKUNK ANANSIE and in turn a four date outing across Germany alongside FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS. As their stock has grown so has their sound, a proposition bred in a fusion of indie and alt rock with instinctive punk rock attitude and post punk confrontation and drawing references to the likes of THE XCERTS and MUNCIE GIRLS. Now that escalation of individuality and invention is boldly evidence within Making Circles of Our Own.
Better People is first up as the album bursts within ears, its clamorous yet melodically veined eruption soon embracing the equally absorbing tones and words of Lyndsey McDougall. With a mercurial confrontation, the song ebbs and flows with its inherent contagiousness sure persistence easily welcomed. As with all things, any view is about personal taste and it is fair to say that the track did not quite ignite in the imagination like other moments but it certainly and continues to make for a flavoursome introduction to the greater enterprise to follow.
Next up Find Fault With Me was the first spark of that vitality, the track strolling forth with a darkened post punk insistence quickly joined by the brighter weave of vocals. The rhythms of bassist Claire Miskimmin and drummer Conor McAuley are unrelenting in that delicious nagging, even as melodic skies break over again a capricious landscape. With the guitars of Allan McGreevy and Cahir O’Doherty casting web like lures with the latter’s backing tones a great shadow to McDougall’s, for our ears the release was already breaching a loftier plain.
The opening enchanted shimmering of A Process of Becoming is soon aligned to the tenebrific breath of rhythms with again a post punk essence in their implication for an open tempting. At times there is an eighties meets nineties essence to the NEW PAGANS sound, this track alone echoing the punk poppiness of bands like THE PHOTOS and the darker indie infectiousness of bands such as THE PRIMITIVES whilst equally weaving an almost post rock climate of intimation. A superb moment of crepuscular intimacy and shadowed observation, it is followed by the fuzzier hued Fresh Young Overlook, a song with matching dexterity in creative twists and turns cast with evocative enterprise in sound and word.
The exceptional There We Are John swiftly had the already opened up itch of pleasure keenly flaring up, the song a compelling shuffle of rhythmic incitement and sonic heat offered with true seductive prowess while Karin Was Not A Rebel, a song celebrating artist and designer Karin Bergöö Larsson, gently but vivaciously danced with the senses with its clamour flirting climate and melodically wired jangle. It too though has natural pop catchiness to orchestrate the body of song and listener alike, one maybe more understated but even more cunning within successor Bigger Homes and carrying just as rich manipulative.
Hear Me, You Were Always Good calmly moves in next but with a sense of volatility in its belly which adds tension and intrigue to the new wave/indie punk seeded encounter. As with most tracks, every passing twist brings fresh surprise and ingenuity within a body fluidly evolving and revolving, another major highlight within in the album uncaged before Comparable Reflections roused infatuation with its tapestry of melodic and sonic hooks around rhythmic and vocal enticement.
Across Making Circles of Our Own, lyrically McDougall looks at the strength and inspiration of Irish people through history, with dextrous agility in her writing offering a “celebration of people proud to be themselves”. Her craft is no more striking than within the album’s closing track, The State of My Love’s Desires a track examining “the fact that the Irish are renowned for raging against their own”. It is a beguiling and haunting lament with the sunlight of hope in its sights; an equally striking song in sound and imagination, it brings the album to a compelling close whilst involving the listener’s every instinct to lustily join in whether in thought or in act.
The press release for Making Circles of Our Own called it “a glorious listen, incisive, inspiring, and uplifting”; we have no reason to contradict and only add our full recommendation.
Making Circles of Our Own is out now via BIG SCARY MONSTERS; available @ https://newpagans.bandcamp.com/album/making-circles-of-our-own
New Pagans UK Tour Dates:
Mar 07: Glasgow Broadcast
Mar 08: Newcastle Zerox
Mar 09: Manchester Gullivers
Mar 11: London Boston Music Room
Mar 13: Bristol The Exchange
Mar 14: Nottingham The Bodega
Mar 15: Liverpool EBGBs
Pete RingMaster 20/02/2023
Copyright RingMaster Review
Leave a Reply