MONEY – Suicide Songs
Following the release of their debut album The Shadow of Heaven in 2013, Manchester band MONEY immediately secured their place as one of the most interesting (and tear-jerking) newcomers in the UK music scene. The Shadow of Heaven is easily one of the best debut albums of the last few years, and inevitably set expectations high for anything MONEY might do next.
Having released the lead single off their new album, 'You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky', three months ago, it was already clear that they were on to something good, but it is only with today's release of Suicide Songs on Bella Union that it can be established MONEY's second album meets all the hopes and expectations.
While thematically and lyrically heavy and uneasy, Suicide Songs is a surprisingly bright album. Even with a constant haunting undertone, its beautiful string arrangements are at times even joyous, making the album feel like an orchestral declaration of relief and absolution rather than self-destruction. This is reflected in the cover art, that is visually very similar to that of The Shadow of Heaven, too: featuring singer Jamie Lee balancing a knife on his forehead, the expression is more euphoric than despairing, as if he is expecting a splash of water to wash over his head in an attempt to purify him.
Indeed, religious themes crop up every so often while listening to the album. Perhaps they are the only ones descriptive enough for an album that opens with a song called 'I Am The Lord', verges on the glee of a gospel choir and includes lyrics about praying for your children and for you to never be lonely, all while carrying the weight of the world. Somehow all of this manages to sound recognisably MONEY, even if songs like 'I'm Not Here' do have hints of The Verve.
The album's title track – or in a way just one of them - 'Suicide Song' is the shortest on the album, right in the middle. It is not subtle, it is not downplayed; its repeated “this is your suicide song” is as direct and as harrowed as it could be. Yet, even so, it is probably the most uplifting song, to the point of tears and relief, about suicide and a “need to turn the light into dark” there has ever been.
It is again followed by songs grander than each other, enticingly honest lyrics and a melancholy that surrounds every chord. The finishing track 'A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic's New Year' seems to take the album back to the edge and down to the ground from the heavenly heights, closing the album off with the heavy contrast of reality.
Just like The Shadow of Heaven, Suicide Songs is an intensely beautiful, yet haunting listen. It's an album that is all-out and open, pushing everything to extremes both in terms of Lee's vocal range as well as emotionally. It never lets go of the feeling that things are and will remain uncertain, yet somehow it manages to turn all the dark into light. If Lee looks like he is expecting a splash of water over his head in the cover art, the album feels like that splash – intense, powerful, chilling and purifying.