Given its title, you'd be forgiven for assuming that MONEY's second album 'Suicide Songs' was a dour or morose record - even the artwork lends itself to such assumptions. Depicting a shirtless Jamie Lee, knife poised above his forehead, it’s a sombre scene that reflects a sombre title. Even during those several crucial first listens, 'Suicide Songs' remains an album that feels intensely miserable.
But then something strange happens. The wistfulness begins to feel welcoming. Guitar parts that once felt heavy with the weight of emotion suddenly feel uplifting, optimistic, even; Lee's falsetto, though less prominent here than on the band's debut, is fraught with raw sentiment that, while no less impactive, begins to take on an air of the familiar, allowing for the album to become an exercise in catharsis as opposed to the gallery of depressing vignettes it could have been.
Oddly enough however, it isn't as if further listening reveals secondary meanings. Nor is that the record's despondency wears any thinner over time. It isn't even that you begin to acclimatise to the overt sadness of the album; it's that you adjust to the lyrical styling of Jamie Lee, resulting in what once felt hopeless, paradoxically becoming hopeful. Having always considered himself a writer rather than a musician, arguably a trait many may find pretentious, Lee's lyrics often fall into poetics, and songs such as the previously released 'You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky' perpetuate perfectly the downtrodden romance that lines Lee's lyric books.
From the eponymous acoustic of 'Suicide Songs' to the rich swells of 'I'll Be The Night' it's difficult to try and pigeonhole the grandeur of MONEY's compositions, even the most fragile of tracks retain an understated level of splendour that permeates insidiously in the quiet moments of respite, before bursting forth as a torrent during the record's more majestic moments.
It's for this reason that 'Suicide Songs' is much more than just another downbeat record. It's an emotional tumult that coaxes listeners in with woozy guitars, before spitting them out the other side fresh from a cathartic cleansing. Equally fragile and resplendent in its execution, it's the kind of album that stays with you long after its haunting close.
Words: Dave Beech
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