Oh dear. The Brutal Here And Now is an album that promises much – furious titles, a taste of Gaeilge and a mix of disparate genres – but delivers far short of the expected confident, spirited record. Simply it lacks leadership as every musical whim is pandered to. ‘The Tantarella’ is an atmospheric piece while ‘Shudder In The West’ a bog standard indie pop track, both scattered among basic banjo-based rock songs, often sounding like a compilation of songs by bands with the same singer. The trad aspect is what grates in particular. Traditional Irish music can excite ones musical palette like little else in the musical spectrum, but Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock manage to batter the gritty realism of this ancient style to death, instead sounding like an Irish Mumford and Sons.
Yet that wouldn’t be an entirely terrible idea. Such a band would make a fortune and raise the profile of Irish music. But M&S write catchy pop songs, while Spook exist in grey limbo area that lyrically and musically hints at being a rough-edged rock band. While a catchy refrain and interesting chord progression on ‘The Brutal Here And Now Part 1’ shows that Spook may be a better band than this album (and they showed signs of that on their debut), it’s far from enough to save it.
Production is often a matter of opinion, but the shoddiness in the clunky rhyming couplets, weak vocals and uninspired musicianship is undeniable. ‘The Rattling Hell’ supports this theory to the extent that it doesn’t merely bore, but infuriates. Thankfully by the time its rattled its last the album is over. Spook Of The Thirteenth Lock could be a much better band, but they’ll need to either grow a pair of musical cajones or sell out and go on tour with The Script.