It’s almost two years since Belfast’s New Pagans released their acclaimed debut LP, The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All. The indie-punks are now back featuring the same, strong line-up with Making Circles of Our Own.
The first two tracks ‘Better People’ and ‘Find Fault’ are in the same mould as their March 2021 record, but then the album seems to take a turn down a different and arguably more interesting path. On ‘A Process of Becoming’, Conor McAuley’s drum pattern and Claire Miskimmin’s bass line drives it forward. Lyndsey McDougall’s vocals echo Sinead O’Connor.
Once again, as with their debut release, McDougall’s unabashed passion for art & creativity is laid bare on ‘There We Are, John’ and ‘Karin Was Not a Rebel’. Both songs were inspired by the creative force of specific artists. The former track is about growing things out of desolate situations & spaces and was inspired by English artist, costume designer, filmmaker & gay activist Derek Jarman.
Lyndsey McDougall elaborates on how the song came together – “I first encountered the work of Derek Jarman through his coastal garden, Prospect Cottage in Dungeness (south-east coast of England). We had just lost our home and had moved in with my parents (due to the scarcity of live music work amidst the pandemic) and my dream of owning a garden seemed further away than ever. Studying Jarman’s garden brought me great serenity and hope. In a place considered so desolate, he created a beautiful, fruitful landscape.” The song may have a positive ethos, but it also has a defiant feel with a killer guitar riff.
There are some really strong songs on the album such as ‘Bigger Homes’ and ‘Comparable Reflections’. The guitar sound from McGreevy and O’Doherty across the album is top-drawer. However, the standout track for me is the closing tune; ‘The State Of My Loves Desires’. Dave Line from the UK band Seafood duets beautifully with McDougall. Their softest and most gentle effort is potentially their best.
This opens the door to the question of whether we will see more of this side of the band in subsequent releases. There is no doubt that this band is anthemic & explosive, particularly in a live setting, however, Making Circles of Our Own feels richer with fewer hard edges. It is refreshing to hear the band go down the sonic gears on this release.
New Pagans believe that the record and some of the artists that inspired it is a celebration of people proud to be themselves, resisting the constraints of others, and leaving behind a legacy of creation & optimism. On their sophomore album, they imbue joy & hope with their own particular, ‘Pagans’ flavour and make no apologies for it.
New Pagans will open their UK tour to support the LP on 2nd March at the Ulster Sports Club in Belfast. Pre-order Making Circles of Our Own
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