Ding Ding, Week four of our favourite man James Hendicott on a bi-weekly basis picking fights with the world to find some new music for you all to keep an eye out for.
Sounds Of System Breakdown are founder and lead vocalist Rob Costello, guitarist Richy Kelly and drummer (and brother of the front man) Ed Costello. Currently splitting their time between London, Dublin and a secret location where they’re putting the final touches on their second full-length (we hear it has a sea view and an ample supply of fermented intoxicants), they have a cult Dublin following gained in part through their DIT connections, and in part from a rounded live performance that mixes live charisma with seriously danceable beats. Rob even uses a theremin, and yes, he does make it sound good…
Let’s aim high, and quote the most common comparison: Sounds Of System Breakdown often get compared to those infectious dance-floor fillers LCD Soundsystem, with Rob branded ‘Ireland’s James Murphy’ in a couple of reviews of their stunning self-titled début. The three-piece also have a distinctly local tinge to them, though. In ‘Ten Pack Of Johnny Blue’, or ‘Jaysyehaventacluedoyeh’ they deal with local cultural quirks without losing a thumpingly danceable, muscular brand of synth-pop with enough nuance to bare serious repeat listens. The début full-length (which you can now listen to in full on Bandcamp) received a monster critical reception, and even came in a few beautiful hand-drawn-cover copies as well as the standard release. The feather in its cap, perhaps, is the haunting melody of rarely performed mellow number ‘Love’s Only Chemicals’, the calm among of myriad of driving storms that proves Sounds Of System Breakdown are capable of going well beyond that same glorious synthetic sound.
There’s been a follow up EP, too, entitled ‘Colour’, which saw the band take a more rustic direction with their beats. Released in June 2011, it featured the brilliant mindfuckery of ‘Reversism’ and a handful of witty accompany videos (witness Rob’s brilliantly surreal workplace beats in the video for ‘Colour’ below). Around the same time as the Colour EP came out, the group made an emotional change of personnel, replacing former drummer Adam. The change over took place mid-way through an emotional Vantastival show, the latter half of which Adam watched tearfully from the front row while Ed stepped into his shoes. Sounds Of System Breakdown are a real live favourite, having made the role of Knockanstockan rave-closer their own from behind their backlit branded logo boxes.
Dublin doesn’t lack for experimental, electro-based artists right now, but with ample going on up on stage, a genuinely euphoric danceable energy and more melodic beat-pop highs than finicky shoe-gaze in their style, Sounds Of System Breakdown would certainly squeeze comfortably into my top five local live acts. They’d sit well on a bill alongside ever-growing local favourites Le Galaxie: their sound is driving, hip-shaking stuff that’s both distinctly and recognisably locally flavoured (ask them about the early sweatbox shows in riotous pubs they needed a defensively positioned chair to get out of) and impressively original. Expect a party you’ll want to attend again as soon as its over.
And the flip side?
Sounds Of System Breakdown have had their heads down on the Irish music scene for a while, through a combo of UK shows and a spate of writing (we’ve had a sneak preview of the early new album recordings, incidentally, and they’re excellent). It could be some time before they’re back playing regular nights in Dublin, so grab the chances when they come. This is a band that could soon be plying its trade successfully far beyond our shores.
The Costellos and Monsieur Kelly will be rocking Knockanstockan like they’ve never been away once again at the end of July this year. After that, shows will take place sporadically as the new album takes shape. Expect another raucous yet intelligent outing.
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