Friday 19 October 2018

Music: Director * * *

I'll wait for sound (Crapshoot Economics)

DREARY: Director's album is short on excitement
DREARY: Director's album is short on excitement

Dublin quartet Director attracted considerable publicity when they signed to Warner Bros offshoot Atlantic Records a few years back. With Reconnect — a debut single of exceptional potency — even those not normally given to hyperbole were predicting very big things indeed.

First album, We Thrive On Big Cities, did well in Ireland — shifting more than 20,000 copies — but the expected international breakthrough never materialised. A Director-Atlantic divorce was inevitable.

Two years later and Michael Moloney and friends have wasted little time in returning to the fray. I'll Wait For Sound was recorded last autumn in Los Angeles and, according to the band's own website, it's “a focused, powerful, eloquent work which sees the band breaking much new ground”. They certainly know how to talk the talk. But walking the walk? That's another question entirely.

It probably — by a tiny margin — is a more focused, powerful and eloquent album than the last one, but, in truth, not much new ground has been broken at all. Director still sound like Ireland's answer to Interpol, only not as good. Their monochrome sound will continue to draw comparisons to Joy Division. And there's still that niggling feeling that despite the odd glimmer of excitement, the brilliance that Reconnect displayed is a long way from their reach.

The album starts well enough. Play Pretend sticks rigidly to the template — urgent guitars, purposeful bass, strong Moloney vocals, but sounds bigger. It would have been a more obvious choice for a lead single than Sing It Without A Tune, which almost — but happily not quite — lives up to its title.

Brad Wood, whose production credits include Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville and Placebo's eponymous debut, has polished Director's sound to a fine sheen. The results are most obvious on the title track — one of the album's more appealing numbers. It also allows Eoin Aherne to showcase his progression as a guitarist.

Wood can throw in every studio device at his disposal, but nothing can paper over the cracks of Moment to Moment — a song so dreary it beggars belief that the band thought it worthy of inclusion. The one moment of genuine surprise is supplied by the moving closer, Can't Go Home. A slow, piano-led ruminative piece, it packs quite a punch.

Burn it: Play Pretend; I'll Wait For Sound

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