When you’re hailed as one of the finest songwriters from these shores, there must be an immense pressure when it comes to releasing new music. Chris McConaghy aka Our Krypton Son must thrive under this sense of expectation as his third full length Modern Ruins can be hailed as a triumphant return.
Sonically McConaghy has never been afraid to experiment and the introduction of fellow Derry native Ryan Vail on production duties opens up some tantalising prospects. Notably on lead single ‘White Sun’, the driving synths propel McConaghy’s vocals to a new level and only serve to enhance the range of emotion on show. This template is followed on the distinctly trippy ‘I Want No part In This Jamboree’, leaving an almost ethereal feeling behind.
‘Death Keeps Me Awake At Night’ lulls you in with gentle picking of the guitar which keeps the focus on McConaghy’s vocals. Yet it also manages to surprise with sporadic moments of a church organ and honky tonk piano. In the same vein is ‘Bloodletting’, this time featuring Vail’s Behringer Deepmind 6 synth, while closer ‘I’m A Field In Winter’ provides the most tender of moments in the shape of a touching piano ballad.
The stand out on the record is ‘The Boy With The Cauliflower Ear’ with a deep dose of melancholy and despair laced through the lyrics. While this darkness could be overwhelming, the mesmerising electronic beat provides an idyllic and moving soundscape.
Modern Ruins is a rich and rewarding listen, particularly, for those able to carve out time for all nine tracks in one sitting. Those that do, will discover a record delicately crafted with beautiful arrangements and contemplative lyrics. It is a record that further cements Our Krypton Son’s credentials as one of Ireland’s best even if it doesn’t end up a winner at the Northern Ireland Music Prize.