Stephen hails Our Krypton Son’s debut album as one of the best records this year
November 16th will see the debut album from Derry native Our Krypton Son (Chris McConaghy) hitting records stores near you. Released on the consistently brilliant Smalltown America label (Oppenheimer, La Faro, Jetplane Landing), proving again why the’ve just celebrated 10 very succesful years in the business. McConaghy spent some time touring the country under his own name with the likes of Gemma Hayes and David Kitt before opting for a name change, a live band and a full length debut. A smart move considering the results.
The album opens with the smartly crafted dream pop vibe of ‘When I First Lay Dreaming’. Its poetic prowess and effortless composition incorporates some wonderful major to minor pop transitions, room-filling organs and that “don’t break a sweat” approach of Richard Hawley. The production is simply stunning on the record throughout, particular mention to the beautifully captured drum sound that really does the entire record justice.
‘Ill Wind’ follows. Its lack of a jump out chorus never creates a problem as McConaghy has the know how to keep it interesting. This track could stand alongside any ‘In It For The Money’-era Supergrass material, with plenty of stomping piano, quirky chord progressions, and coupled with a wonderful banjo-led middle eight.
‘Gargantuan’ highlights the level of musicianship in full. Syncopated rhythms are delivered Ronseal style and in doing so the laid back-ness of McConaghy’s vocal really comes to light. Once again you can hear elements of Britpop shine through the song’s arrangement.
From there McConaghy let’s us delve a little deeper with ‘Season In Hell’. A superbly delivered vocal take really highlights both the lyrical content and the naturalness of his voice, while sounding like it was pulled from the vaults of the legendary Sun Studios in Memphis. Fans of Fleet Foxes or Arcade Fire will appreciate the acoustic temperament and realness of the instrumentation.
The francophile-friendly intro of ‘Catalonian Love Song’ (complete with some gorgeous vibraphone and fuzz guitar) is simply stunning, creating visuals at ease before unfolding into the sun soaked, Laurel Canyon vibes of ‘Sunlight in the Ashes’. Enriched in harmony, electronic piano and some subtle yet perfectly utilised trumpets, this track becomes an instant highlight of the ten track debut. Simply wonderful!
The folk vibes continue into the harmonica-laden ‘Birds On the Skylight’, before we’re back in popsville with ‘This Jealous Heart’. A track that could sit comfortably among ‘Jeff Lynne’s Guide to Song Intros’, if there was such a thing of course.
Wrapping up with the dark and passionate tale of ‘I’ll Never Learn To Say Goodbye’, McConaghy bares his soul for all to see. Soul being the apt word here, as it’s an essential part of this record. Over time it’s easy to spot the complete chancers from the last chancers. In this case McConaghy falls into the later. Years spent touring under his own name and honing his skill has paid off in full. You can hear the realness in his lyrics and his delivery, not to mind the musicianship. Although delicate, his vision has come to life and Our Krypton Son might have just made one of the best records this year.
Every ingredient for a classic album is here. If you’re willing to look deep enough, you will discover that on this nugget of a record. I’ll leave the final words to the man himself. Here he sums up in full, the concept of this wonderful record: “memory, time, love, death, work, jealousy – the usual shit really“.
Thurs 8th November – Gifted @ The Empire, Belfast
Fri 16th November – Album Launch Sandino’s, Derry (ADM Free with a pre-purchased copy of the album)
Thurs 17th November – Flanagans, Newbridge
Fri 18th November – The Mercantile, Dublin
Wed 21st November – The Black Box, Belfast
Thurs 13th December – Radar @ Queen’s SU, Belfast
Fri 14th December – The Green Room, Letterkenny
Fri 28th December – Bennigan’s, Derry