“It’s kind of bittersweet really,” states Lizzie Fitzpatrick, vocalist, guitarist and general founding figure of Irish dream-grunge troupe Bitch Falcon. It’s a perfectly understandable reply to being asked about how she feels about the release of the her band's long awaited debut, Staring At Clocks. “We’re dying to get it out there to see what people think, but disappointed we can't play it live in front of a crowd. Hopefully it will give people some entertainment during lockdown 2.0”.
Whilst it’s nigh on impossible to name a single act that hasn’t been dealt a devastating blow by the events of this year, but to say that 2020 has dealt Bitch Falcon a particularly cruel hand would be a fitting. Even before the release of their monumental debut, the act were frequently tipped as the de facto ambassadors of the underground alternative Dublin scene. Interweaving ethereal carbonated reverb with snaring new age grunge hooks and silk like vocals, it wasn’t long following their 2014 establishment that the group had cultivated a throng of devoted followers from the mainlands all across to the Americas. With Staring At Clocks due to be their launchpad into the stratosphere, it appeared nothing could impend the continuous rise of the band. Nothing except an global pandemic of course.
With the record out now via Small Pond, Bitch Falcon should be currently winding up and down roads on a near planetary scale, showcasing first hand the undeniable excellence of Staring At Clocks. However, with the international live music industry subdued, the band are trapped at home. It’s a cruel twist of fate, with the record being the kind of debut capable of solidifying a band’s prosperous future on stage. Looking at the positives of this surreally horrendous situation though, now is the ideal time to bask and absorb the sheer substance and style of the record. And what substance it provides indeed.
Across the ten songs that form the album, Fitzpatrick address themes of anxiety and despondency whilst immersed within a whirlwind of shattering dynamism courtesy of the skills of Nigel Kenny on drums and Barry O’Sullivan on bass. As Fitzpatrick narrates her tales with guile and magnetism, a fast and furious relationship between Kenny and O’Sullivan plays out, with the two providing a twisting and pulling foundation of shimmering ethereal punishment for her to narrative of her experiences atop. The interplay between the three musicians is sublime and allows one to feel the tightly wound chemistry shared amongst the trio amongst the dynamics. As Fitzpatrick explains, it was above this foundation that she incorporated the band’s newfound prominent reverberating shoegaze aura and found room to further push the emotion within the bands homegrown sound.
“I think that Barry and Nigel had a great connection between them and it gave me so much to play with," she states. "Barry wrote some really tonally despairing basslines that still kept it upbeat, and so I think we were able to achieve a lot on the emotional spectrum with it, I had a lot of fun with recording vocals too. It was great to be able to paint a picture with my voice. I was listening to a lot of My Bloody Valentine, and some not quite shoegaze bands, but maybe that dreamy reverby sound that shoegaze is associated with. I really enjoyed playing around with loads of synths and pedals to fill out the album, it sounds like a soft sad cushion.”
"I think we were able to achieve a lot on the emotional spectrum with it...It was great to be able to paint a picture with my voice."
Throughout this maelstrom of reverberating noise, one that both comforts and contorts the psyche, Fitzpatrick channels inner darkness for a cathartic effect. A sense of emotional turmoil has always underpinned the group’s pummelling and atmospherically asphyxiating sound, but with this debut, emotional darkness has taken the centre stage alongside the reigning musicianship. Given the subject matters detailed, it’s not surprising though. ‘Sold Youth’ see’s her detailing the loathing that comes with jealously, ‘Martyr’ documents using mental illness as a personality trait, ‘Staring At Clocks’ is a trip into the infinite void of depression induced numbness, and inspired by her work as a nurse, ‘Turned To Gold’ artistically documents those turning to opiates and other narcotics for escape.
Though these are merely examples, the entire record is fraught with such palatable intensity. As expected, exorcising such mental gloom was indeed a cathartic experience for the frontwoman, something she details. “It was probably a form of therapy, as performing live is. I try to express my anxieties and darkness through my vocal performance rather than lyrically. I was listening to a lot of Beach House when recording. I love how low Victoria Legrand’s vocal gets. It’s so dark yet so soothing, like she knows what my problems are. I wanted to try and achieve something similar to that, to give the listener a hand.”
"I think it was good to wait ‘til now to put out our debut. We still like the old songs, but it sounds like a different band to me now."
It’s natural for a band’s respective sound to undergo a metamorphosis in the process of creating a full length debut. It’s often a transition period where acts refine their output and ensure it fits to their ideals. Staring At Clocks is no exception, but the evolution of their sound within this release is simply grandiose. Bitch Falcon have stripped the baby fat from their sound prior to sharpening their hooks, bolstering it with hulking strength and adding further translucence to their exquisite sonic density. It’s a tremendous show of prowess, one that was planned for this moment. “We have wanted to write like this for a long time.” She states with confidence. “I think it was good to wait ‘til now to put out our debut. We still like the old songs, but it sounds like a different band to me now. We have been doing this music behind the scenes for a while and I feel like a child outgrowing my clothes. We’re so ready to show people the new us.”
Bitch Falcon have not just made a statement of intent with Staring At Clocks, but have proved themselves to be future giants and influences within the spectrum of alternative allure. It’s a record that serves as a platform not just for establishing their success – something that will inevitably transpire once the band can dominate live environment once more – but one that has allowed Fitzpatrick much required catharsis.
Such therapeutic exercise may be crucial, but as Fitzpatrick shares finally, it’s a record for those seeking solace as she was. “I want people to be sucked in and leave feeling like they witnessed something special. I love records that adopt you into their world. If we can be some form of escapism to people that would be so satisfying. I want people to scream along when they’re feeling shit and it’ll hopefully remind them that we all feel this crap, daily.”