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As the Christmas hangover sets in, the bleak midwinter is in full force and the January blues are upon us. Perfect timing then, for Manchester's MONEY to release their second studio album, the haunted Suicide Songs. The first new song to be shared was the poetic 'You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky', an acoustic ballad that brings with it a sense of overwhelming sadness. Just before Christmas, the band also unveiled their anti-yuletide offering, the tortured and brilliantly titled, 'A Cocaine Christmas and an Alcoholic's New Year', complete with poignantly festive strings and Shane McGowan-snarl. Lee sings of being "ugly-beautiful" which epitomises the tone of the album, as grandeur nestles side by side with tragic desperation.
Perhaps more than any other subject (except love), artists have dealt with death and dying, which have been an inspiration for artistic creation throughout history. Speaking of the record, singer Jamie Lee says, "I wanted the album to sound like it was 'coming from death' which is where these songs emerged. The record is morbid and bleak, and never resolves itself. The only real kind of triumphant realisation is being able to express the morbidity of the situation I found myself in."
The album comes almost three years after the band's acclaimed debut, The Shadow Of Heaven. In 2014, Lee moved back to London to write songs and poetry, and following a period of drunkenness, disputes and self-doubt in Manchester, the band spent three months in a Brixton studio, creating what would become Suicide Songs.
Epic opener 'I Am The Lord' fades into life and instantly sets a tone of melancholia, as Lee speaks of bad dreams and feelings of detachment, "You are not the same as me / I'm up there in the clouds." Elsewhere, the album's title track declares, "This is your suicide song," as if the singer is sacrificing himself to the song and in doing so, destroying the division between himself and listener. MONEY are certainly well aware of how loaded their new album title is, as Lee explains, "...we don't want it to come across just in a negative way. We don't want to glorify mental illness either. Above all else, I'm just trying to project and portray a poetic truth."
It's certainly not all doom and gloom though, from the bittersweet 'Hopeless World' to the more uplifting acoustic ballad, 'I'll Be The Night'. The contemplative, climactic nature of Suicide Songs, filled with layers of swirling strings, glorious brass sections and celestial vocals, resonates with an affirming sense of having confronted death face to face. The timelessness of this album reflects the nature of its subject matter. As the name would suggest, it's a particular sound fit for a very particular mood, perfect for those cold, grey January days.
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