Espero is the third solo effort from prolific Limerick rock musician, actor, producer and all-round ‘head’ Mark O’Connor. An ode and goodbye to a long-term relationship, the album was recorded in Limerick, Kerry and Vermont over two years.
It’s covered with hooks and memorable motifs, which are leant authenticity and weight when mired in O’Connor’s trademark dirty low-end heaviness (you may remember him from such bands as Golf and Tooth). O’Connor has seemingly lost none of the dirty grunginess he brought to those bands and has in fact coloured it with xylophone, spoken word and even stuck The Rubberbandits and J Mascis on there for good measure.
The opening tracks, apparently recorded in the aftermath of the couple’s break-up, are raw and clearly pained, with ‘Waking up in the World Without You’ in particular taking the listener on a beautiful trip direct to Dumpsville on the Bum-out Bus.
The tracks jump between melancholy lamentations, to dreamy pop packages to fuzzed out Pumpkins-esque radio rock. But’s it’s hooks all the way. O’Connor has an lazy and sometimes drawling vocal and coupled with a heavily organic sound and delivery, Espero surprises you by being catchy as balls in places.
Featuring the aforementioned contributors and a slew of session players, the album begins to pick up energy through the ever-increasing level of individuals and activity pouring forth.
There’s also a tangeable lift in the mood and the spoken-word track ‘Dinner at Esquivel’s’ even lends an element of fun to what was a staring-out-the-window-and-crying fest a few tracks ago. And it has a lovely (yes ‘lovely’) blissed-out chorus and sweet guitar solo from O’Connor to boot.
At an hour long it’s a nice big collection of annoyingly catchy-little-bastard songs that rubs your back, makes you tea and takes you from ‘blue’ to ‘new you’.