There are moments on For Those I Love's self-titled debut album that feel painfully, almost ruthlessly, private. Listening in feels almost intrusive, with songwriter David Balfe's scattered thoughts moving from class dynamics to mental health to friendship, an explicit, shockingly honest cavalcade of insight and desire. Yet at no point can you turn away - ugly and beautiful in equal measure, it's a release daring in its technical skill and gripping in its lyrical execution.
When For Those I Love's David Balfe forged a friendship at secondary school with Paul Curran, it opened a new world to the music obsessed Dublin youth. He found someone who would go on to share the stage in three bands with him, including Burnt Out, the post hardcore band who would ignite the local punk scene from the basement. The black and white videos shot by Balfe for the group’s two singles show the bored pair making merry havoc across the city, and you can hear Curran’s continued influence on this album’s numerous spoken word verses.
Sharing in these origins is David Balfe, a 29-year-old producer operating under the moniker of For Those I Love . Against the backdrop of a city of hardship and adversity, disproportionally hit by economic and political fallout, Balfe carries a hard-hitting debut album as he explores a detailed biographical account of growing up in the Irish capital. Delivered with a fine Irish brogue, Balfe's open-hearted reflections conjure tender memories of working-class youth culture.
There's the Ireland you know. Leprechauns and pan flutes and weathered Celtic crosses and Joyce and Beckett and U2 and Aer Lingus and wistful stories of Charles Parnell and corned beef and cabbage and Kerrygold butter and potatoes, endless potatoes except in the famine, and Guinness and Jameson and names like Sean and Brian and Roisin and Siobhan and hurling and faded IRA murals and St. Patrick driving all the snakes out and Grian Chatten's fuckin' diddly-diddly-aye and a great green sweeping countryside washing out to the ocean.