This MONEY article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Adam Skirving. Photo credit – Joe Wilson
‘Suicide Songs’ is the follow-up album to 2013’s ‘The Shadow of Heaven’. The cleverly named MONEY are famed for their use of poetry, their investigation of the metaphysical, and their interesting live performances. This is their second album release on ‘Bella Union’ after Simon Raymode tracked them down on having heard rumours about their live shows.
The album is a complex mixture of poetry and banality. Swathes of strings, horn, strange guitar and the cracked voice and lyrics of Jamie Lee combine to form passing clouds of meaning in an eternity of sky. At their best MONEY are indescribable, all encompassing, passionate and cold. The title of the album may well suggest a morose collection of songs. On the contrary, a lot of this album shows the incandescent craziness, the full manic joy of losing your marbles. The last track of the album ‘Cocaine Christmas and an Alcoholic’s New Year is a good example of this unhinged elation: “I am in love with the drunks. I am Marilyn Monroe, I am a cocktail party and someone oddly beautiful like Jean Genet”. Lee sings with abandon, he is the drunk in the park; he is the one who only sees the interior of his mind.
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This interior logic pervades the album; this complicated investigation of suicide and mental illness involves exploring feelings, emotions and desires. The conviction of the band allows them to succeed in communication. Sacrifice is a theme that comes up repeatedly, ‘I Am the Night’ can be interpreted as the singer being all of the bad in life, so that the rest of the lives left behind are all good, “I will be gone, no one owes you any favours. They only owe you wine and a fruitless search for saviours that will leave nothing inside.” So that the survivors can sink all the bad into this occurrence – perhaps this is what this song is about – the lyrics and music allow for this drive to make sense, whilst leaving room for an open end. They are at once impenetrable and relatable.
The music is quite sentimental, MONEY love a good waltz, and they draw from romantics – there are certainly hints of fellow Mancunians, The Smiths (see ‘Suicide Song’), as well as a sniff of the more unhinged Longpigs. Where MONEY excel is in allowing this to break down so that the manic creativity can shine through. The instrumentation on the fourth song on the record, ‘Night Came’, makes this manifest. After the lyric “And it’s horrific, I can feel it coming in” there are some incredibly detailed noises that suggest an underlying uncomfortableness, at itch, tic, or the feeling of a small insect crawling on your skin. This track ends with a strange meta-ness, with Lee crying “Come out come out,” almost willing the song into existence, or suggesting this isn’t the finished work. This proposes a degree of ever-present live-ness, the work creates the work and it will always be created afresh every time the band play.
This is an expressive album that grows with each track. Although Lee’s vocals are incredible in tone, and the lyrics demand interpretation, the rest of the band is as responsible for creating a whole world for inhabiting. This album expresses the complications with communicating about mental health in a way that only music can, they have made themselves vulnerable and exposed, and deserve to be looked at and listened to closely.
‘Suicide Songs’ is out now via Bella Union.