In barren economic times we may be, but if we need something to cheer us up then we could do worse than look toward the Irish music scene. Perhaps not in a business-model sense, as the industry metamorphoses to adapt to the age of the download (and major-label chiefs stare into the void), but in the direct contrast of its rude health and wealth of diversity, creativity and wherewithal to pull itself out of the zeitgeist gloom, against the spluttering illness of our finances. Perfect representatives of this blossoming wellbeing are Dublin’s 8Ball.
With All Your Friends is in fact 8Ball’s second bite at the cherry, having signed a record deal early in their gestation and created a debut with themselves as producers. It’s been shouted from one or two rooftops (particularly here at State) that these guys were criminally overlooked, or maybe criminally unlucky, as their talent was undoubtedly there but the exposure they needed wasn’t. For the second record then, they brought in one Ian Caple (Spiritualized, Tindersticks) and with a producer of note at the knobs, hoped to change their own luck.
With this album they have surely done that. Opening track -Soulsaver’ instantly sets a tone of ethereal, moody expanse while the second song -Dig It’ immediately lightens the tone. This is a theme of the album – the cavernous settings of songs like -Handfuls’ and -My 55′ are always offset by more upbeat fare. In fact, in the latter song’s lyrics -there’s a suicidal clown in the mirror looking down’, there is perhaps a metaphor for the whole album. Not in any sense of being depressing – more a juxtaposition of fun and sadness, much like the on-the-ropes economy versus our plump and healthy music scene.
In short, it’s because of bands like 8Ball that we can be hopeful. Music and art, indeed all forms of creativity, have always won out against hard times and judging by this we’re in great shape to overcome again. With All Your Friends is a brilliant album, and for fans of Hot Chip et al, particularly rewarding.