I'm (So) Ready Now
Oh my god. Bitch Falcon. I'm saying it now, this might be the best rock album of the year. Slow Motion Panic Masters' pick for the very best album of November 2020, Staring at Clocks is an astonishing achievement from an utterly unmissable post-punk group from the heart of Ireland.
It's immediately apparent as Staring at Clocks whirs into gear that this is an incredibly confident project. For an underground group, Bitch Falcon absolutely explode as this album kicks off, with Lizzie Fitzpatrick's vocal presence blasting a hole through the wall alongside one of the tightest, meanest and fastest drum performances I've heard this year. Bitch Falcon are menacing and melodic, and the album fires through track after track of relentlessly exceptional quality without a single fault.
The bass tone is unspeakable. Fat, deep, resonant as all hell, it drives Bitch Falcon forwards with this unstoppable momentum that just builds and builds. The guitar work of 'Turned To Gold' is exceptional, revolving around gorgeous effect loops and perfect passages of intricate performative wizardry. Each song pulls the heavy alt-rock capabilities of the group into a new, unique direction. Be it the rhythmic fragmentation of the fantastic 'How Did I Know', or the brooding soundscapes of title track 'Staring at Clocks' that slowly descend into total noise rock perfection.
A true highlight emerges as 'Damp Breath' makes itself known. Rising distorted guitar passages fuse electrifyingly with Fitzpatrick's continued growls and the supporting wonder of Nigel Kenny and Barry O'Sullivan on bass and drums. That chorus-y, distorted guitar sound is *genius*, and combined with big dirty bass riffs and the emphatic shouts at [0:51] mark this tune as assuredly one of the very best songs of 2020.
The group are totally comfortable experimenting with dynamics, too. This is no one note album of shoutiness and aggressively bone-shattering rhythms. 'Test Trip' flickers between a serene softness and into total catharsis with the power of its choruses. Despite perhaps the album's weakest vocal performance found on this song, dipping a little flat on more than one occasion, even ropey recordings (partially absolved by the ambition of this project) can't shake the fundamental solidity of Staring at Clocks. 'Martyr' invites memories of Favourite Worst Nightmare before giving away to one of the best guitar solos of the year, wrapped up in a totally chaotic mess of perfect post-punk energy. From closers 'Gaslight' and 'Harvester', it's clear that Bitch Falcon must be an incredibly impressive unit to hear live. The sheer animation of the closing minutes of this album are remarkable in my headphones, so I can only imagine how fantastic these three sound in person. The second I get a chance, I will be in the room with this band (and I hope to see Mawpit opening for them sometime in the future - surely a perfect combination).
It sounds hyperbolic, I know, but albums like Staring at Clocks are the reason why we at this site obsessively check into the underground at every possible opportunity. This is the kind of gem that deserves to be uncovered, and needs to be heard by everyone with even a passing interest in music. Albums like this do not emerge from the underground often, and when they do everyone needs to pay attention.
- 8.9 -
'Turned To Gold', 'Damp Breath', 'Harvester'
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Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture blog created and co-edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.
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