Sometimes the pace of everything around us take us forward so fast that we are quick to forget or even abandon items that given more time would have yielded great things. Who knows the clothes, the towns, the partners we left in the wake that would have been the warmest, most secure places to be in the long run. Lucky for us then that digging in a garden overgrown for 10 years old, Dave O’Grady of Independent records unearthed The Prayer Boat’s magnum opus Polichinelle.
Born of a time for this Irish band where major labels nibbled but never really bit. There was teasing spells with record labels in the US but the more they tried to shoehorn in a more radio-friendly sound, the more frontman Emmet Tinley and the band, to their utmost credit, stepped away and slowly, the promising lights were turned off. Recorded with money cadged from friends and family, a deal on a studio and a last minute favour from The Jesus and Mary Chain, the hassles and stresses of this process for them is in direct contrast to the lush music; orchestral in parts, melancholy too but confident and assured. If you find yourself in a tender mood, it’s supremely comforting.
Tinley’s falsetto voice is distilled heartache but it’s still comforting, though it’s sometimes given nearly too much credit, belying the fact that the songwriting and music is high up there too. There are melodies and chord changes on here that can effortlessly tap into moods or feelings and sparse strings and piano cover any other gaps.
After investing such emotional energy into this album 10 years ago it must have hurt to see it fail to get a foothold above the critical acclaim and much of the songs prelude this pain in a way. Though here it is a decade later and still fresh, still testament (if that’s comfort enough) to sticking to your guns, making that album by any means possible and holding onto it in the face of people with money wanting to change your music so they can make make more money. At the very least a four-star album but a definite upgrade to five for telling The Man, all those years ago years ago, to go fuck himself.