Newman stalwart Cian O’Farrell has released his highly-anticipated debut album under the name of Loners. His first full-length is an ambitious collection of soundscapes, ambient grooves and brave samples. Fans of everyone from the Horrors, to Arthur Russell, to Burial will find something to love on Be Happy!!!
Sublime opener ‘Cherry’ is perhaps the most conventional track on the album with similarities to Future Islands. Loners’ Nick Cave-esque crooning vocals have the consistency of treacle, paired with the endlessly hypnotic chorus repetition, make this first cut just as enticing as any of the more outlandish tracks to come.
The tension that builds on tracks like ‘Disco Pigs’ and ‘Virgins’- which begin with a Jack Kerouac quote and a Steve Reich sample respectively- is untangled delicately on ‘Deactivation’ and ‘Conscience’. ‘Leda and The Swan’ could be something plucked from the Arcade Fire back catalogue.
The ambiguity in the lyrics, which are often masked through autotune or distortion, take nothing away from the emotional quality of the album. Take the penultimate track ‘I <3 Dublin Cunt’ for instance, the vocals (another sample?) are too far down in the mix to fully decipher but the abrasion and impatience of the muddy synths are a narrative in themselves. Where most tracks on this album encourage the listener to imagine a beautiful deceleration to life – a club night in slow motion – ‘I <3 Dublin Cunt’ does the opposite and seems to encompass an entire Dublin night out – 5 am curbside breakdown included – within its short 2 minutes of synth aggression.
For a debut album, it’s surprising how established and comfortable Loners feels within this sonic identity that he has created. As a complete work, the album feels cinematic, the shifts in music are measured and organic. These are the album’s most compelling moments, like when the guitar gives way to a wave of drawn-out synths on ‘What Will We Do When We’ve Got No Money’. However, these moments could really be expanded upon and in another world, Be Happy!!! is a 90-minute ambient opus. We’ll stay tuned for the remix album.
By Niall O’Shaughnessy – Music Editor & Muireann O’Shea – CoEditor