Album review: Squarehead

Squarehead - High Time (Strange Brew Records)

Squarehead are (LtoR) Ian McFarlane, Ruan Van Vliet, and Roy Duffy.

Squarehead are (LtoR) Ian McFarlane, Ruan Van Vliet, and Roy Duffy.

HAVING TAKEN some time out for "a much-needed mental health break" after three albums in three years and constant touring, Dublin trio Squarehead pick up, not exactly where they left off.

This is an older, wiser, Squarehead, the change apparent from the slow, psychedelic melancholy, of opening track 'CDHR'. Although something of the old Squarehead sound - the slight growl to the guitars, the 'tight yet loose' rhythms (Ian McFarlane and Ruan Van Vliet are arguably the country's finest rhythm section ), particularly on 'Los Paradiso' - is discernible, the band has largely moved beyond its former garage rock/surf rock hybrid.

Instead they have moved towards a purer indie/alternative sound, such as the tense, nervy post-punk riffs meets nineties lo-fi melodies of 'After The Sun'; the languid psych-pop sway of 'Morning'; and 'Ignorance' which is drenched in a sadness which harkens back to the early sound of The Cure. The weight of the music is reflected in the lyrics, which reveal a deeper, more mature Squarehead than we have yet heard.

Perhaps though, the best is saved for last. 'Maybe' is a superb exercise in tension and release both within the verse/bridge/chorus structure, and that final, thrilling, romp at the end, which sees band leader Roy Duffy deliver a brilliant guitar solo - not something often, if ever, heard on indie albums. Kudos also for sneaking in that doffing of the cap to 'Eels' 'Novocaine For The Soul' on the chorus.

 

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