Never Mind The Virtue Signalling: Bitch Falcon Are Letting Their Music Do The Talking
The phrase ‘the luck of the Irish’ usually means that only good fortune befalls those from the Emerald Isle, but try telling that to awesomely-monikered Dublin trio Bitch Falcon. They’ve been a going concern for the best part of the past six years, yet 2020 was meant to be the moment they finally capitalised on their word-of-mouth success on home soil and made a name for themselves beyond the Irish borders. This was supposed to be the year that vocalist and guitarist Lizzie Fitzpatrick took time out from her day job saving lives as a nurse, to go travelling the world with her bandmates, bassist Barry O’Sullivan and drummer Nigel Kenny. The three-piece should have been gearing up for the long-awaited release of their debut album, Staring At Clocks, and celebrating its arrival with a raft of their special brand of whites-of-the-eyes live shows. Then, well, everything happened and so nothing much has happened at all. The best laid plans, alas…
“I had it all set up so that I could take a career break from nursing and go off adventuring,” sighs Lizzie, who we dial in with, fresh from a typically draining shift at the hospital. “It was supposed to be chips for tea on tour every night – the dream! That being said, when the pandemic happened, it was great to have this job and not have to worry, unlike a lot of musicians.”
Where live performance remains something of a distant dream for now (or a socially distanced stream at best) creativity may well step up. For it was a time of tremendous stress and difficulty that helped inspire much of the album’s 10 tracks over a year ago. Marked by their distinctive, woozy shoegaze atmospherics and grungey growl, the band combine their love of Cocteau Twins, Deftones and My Bloody Valentine to conjure emotionally-frazzled songs of quiet rage and vulnerability.
“When I was writing the record I was going through a bit of a dark point in my life,” Lizzie confesses. “There’s a lot of personal stuff in there – a bit of anxiety – and the songs are like releases of numbness, from the depths of that darkness. It’s quite existential, trying to capture and express that feeling of, ‘What if nothing makes sense?’
“I’m drawing off my personal experiences, but I don’t want to shut people out and make it all about me,” she stresses. “These are feelings that everyone goes through to varying degrees, so I want people to relate to them.”
One listen to Staring At Clocks and it’s clear that Bitch Falcon think and care deeply about the world, soaking up the chaos that surrounds them and trying to make sense of what that stirs in them as human beings. It’s about empathy and compassion, traits most strikingly captured on the superlative Turned To Gold, one of the songs written as more of an observational exercise than a personal crucible.
“I wrote that one like a story, from my experience as a nurse,” the frontwoman explains of its origins. “There was this 17-year-old kid hooked on heroin. I wrote the song from the perspective of him and his girlfriend as they were trying to get him through his addiction, and the pressures of him as a man because he was at this coming-of-age time in his life, approaching a huge fork in the road.
“I’ve gained a lot of confidence over the past few years to write something like that,” says Lizzie, evidently grateful that she and the band hadn’t rushed the writing of their debut album before now. “I don’t want to be virtue signalling just because I’m a nurse. I’m not going to put up photos of me in my PPE to get pity likes. But writing about this situation was significant for me. I see a lot of heavy stuff every day in work, but to me, that song is a love story, between that kid and his girlfriend. That’s what resonated with me.”
It’s in seeing the world differently, embracing the myriad feelings and conflicts that come with opening yourself to its darkness that the light starts to shine through. That’s not to say Lizzie and the boys have it all figured out, by any means. Having a recorded outlet for creativity is one thing. A band like this demand and deserve a live, communal connection for that creativity.
“Live, I have the arsenal of the guitar, the microphone and my voice,” says Lizzie, “As a performer I can get completely out of myself. It can be a pure, raw expression of feeling that I don’t have to put into words. You can really become a kind of character – like a concentrated version of yourself. It puts you in such a vulnerable place when you’re being honest like that, but it would just be great if people could take something positive from what I’ve expressed.
“I’m trying to get across a really heavy sense of melancholy, rather than be lyrically striking,” she qualifies. “I just want someone to feel the music, I don’t want to tell anyone what to think. I want to evoke emotion.”
As you can probably tell, this lot are different. They look, sound and express themselves as only they know how and as only they can. Their music will no doubt speak for itself, if you let it, and although it’s sad that there may not be an opportunity to share it in a room together for a while, when Staring At Clocks is released into the public domain, you’d do well to find a record more deserving of your time, attention and admiration. The luck of the Irish may not be on the trio’s side right now, but with graft, determination and a fairer shake as the world rights itself in the future, Bitch Falcon shouldn’t need any luck.
Staring At Clocks is released on November 6 via Small Pond.
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