From their name, derived from Mogwai’s second album, through their first EPs and on the 10 songs that make up their debut album, Come On Live Long spout a positive message. A Dublin five piece, they released their first single two years ago. And while all the tenets of their sound are there – harmonies, verbose lyrics, a big bang reveal halfway through – they’re obviously shakey, evidenced by the actual wonky effect that ‘Animal’ uses.
Six months later and their confidence was beginning to soar, though they employed the kitchen sink approach to ‘Elephants & Time’, with the message getting a little lost along the way. Come On Live Long’s message, essentially, is that everything will be OK. It’s great to have an act whose music you can wallow in, who understands your feelings (The Smiths, Elliot Smith, Nirvana) but Come On Live Long want to be the band to bring you out of that funk you’re stuck in. And over the 10 tracks that comprise Everything Fall,, recorded at Orphan Studios in Dublin by Gavin Glass, they succeed, imploring on closing track ‘Billions’: “Let me go dancing, the night is young.” They want to help you get over your troubles and take you out and have a good time.
Co-vocalist Louise Gaffney told me last week: “There are times when a song calls for balls-out, throwing everything at it and then there are times to be reserved and to try to cherry pick the right elements to capture a mood.” That ethos is exemplified by the opening three tracks on Everything Fall, where things start off slow, before, maybe aware that some listeners’ attention may have drifted, all the dots join up and the band’s sound explodes. Completed by Robert Ardiff, Steve Battle, David O’Connor and Ken McCabe, Come On Live Long, formed from the ashes of various folk and funk bands, have learned from those early EPs and let each song breathe. ‘Wasteland’ eases us in, with Ardiff asking late in the song: “Have you such a problem you can’t even look straight at me?” ‘Mountains’, an earlier single, is beautiful and reassuring: “The truth is easier to fake, the smile you’re wearing, it’ll all turn out OK. Mountains made of molehills turning into clay. Anna told me: be OK” They give it time to grow, never rushing their story.
That ‘Mountains’ isn’t the best thing here is testament to the album’s quality. That honour belongs to the gorgeous nursery rhyme of ‘Old Apart’, which explores young love in a time of struggle. “What’s it gonna take? It’s a make or break” Ardiff says, before Louise’s sugary sweet vocals recall the good old days: “I count to 10, I tip the can, I feel slow. I didn’t cheat I’m going home.” The drama escalates, playing over that simplistic, repetitive guitar line. ‘Old Apart’ follows perhaps the album’s most interesting song, ‘Cybil’, which musically sounds like a relative to Adele’s ‘Rumour Has It’. Just over two minutes long, it features dual vocals throughout, accompanied by handclaps and an impending sense of something happening. It’s a showcase for what Come On Live Long have learned over the last couple of years. They don’t need to throw everything at a track to grab your attention.
They’re able to tip their hat to certain bands and influences without ever being in thrall to them. Well, perhaps apart from the James Blake-aping ‘Little Ones’. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear ‘Say Your Prayers’ on a Lisa Hannigan album, while the exciting clamour of ‘Go’ has all the ingredients needed for a Local Natives hit. However, it also carries a lack of self-belief, a running theme throughout Everything Fall: “I’m digging to fall down,” Ardiff admits, adding that “We broke all the straight lines so we could fight in the dark.”
Everything Fall is not perfect. While each of those early tracks sound great in their own right, together they follow too similar a path: a slow build-up before a big, all-in release. Things get more exciting and less obvious in the second half of the album, which should see listeners returning to Everything Fall to discover something new on each listen. They’re already one of the best live bands in the country – and now Come On Live Long have backed up that claim with one of the finest releases of the year.
Everything Fall is out now on the band’s own Live Long Records. You can buy it in various formats from their Bandcamp page.