Release Date: Jan 29, 2016
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Having introduced themselves three years ago with one of the finest debuts of the decade in the shape of The Shadow of Heaven, it's perhaps understandable that Money decided to retreat from the spotlight in its wake. Indeed that record took five years to complete, so any expectation that the follow-up would be rush-released - or even happen at all - was a pipe dream at the very least. The ensuing years have brought about several changes within the Money camp.
It must be down to the weather. Ever since Echo & The Bunnymen first strapped on their guitars over 35 years ago, the north west of England has produced a steady stream of notable bands that specialise in a very particular brand of widescreen, epic misery. The Smiths’ wit, flair and deftness of touch elevated them to a higher plane, one that defies categorisation, yet a notch below are the likes of The Verve and Doves, who crafted a vast sound dripping with urban gloom, allied to a knack for anthemic choruses that resulted in major commercial success.
Enigmatic from their onset, MONEY's early days included frequent band name changes, D.I.Y. multimedia shows in abandoned buildings, and a reluctance to appear in publicity photos or music videos. After it became known that leader Jamie Lee had relocated from the group's base of Manchester, England to London while his bandmates remained, mystery also surrounded whether or not the band would finish another album, much less manage to equal their impressively absorbing, melancholic debut, especially with additional talk of struggles with alcohol and mental health.
Manchester band Money’s second album certainly aims big. Drums erupt like cannons, guitars, brass and strings echo around the sky, and the instruments employed appear to include an exploding cathedral. The sound is vast, yet ornate and pretty: a supersized cross between Spiritualized and Echo and the Bunnymen at their most orchestral. It’s uplifting, and needs to be – stripped of all those sonic baubles, Jamie Lee’s words might appear maudlin.
2013's The Shadow of Heaven saw MONEY become a worthy addition to Manchester’s rich bloodline of musical mavericks. Bewitching melodies, lyrical dexterity and a sense of meticulous craftsmanship earned the band a wealth of critical praise and seemed to capture something of the gloomy beauty of their own city. Suicide Songs sees the trio perfect what they started to build on their debut.
"Suffer Little Children," the final track on the Smiths' eponymous 1984 record, was a kind of siren song for romantic miserablism. The song itself might have been based on the infamous Moors murders of the 1960s, but it also served to cement Morrissey's home city in the cultural imagination. "Oh, Manchester, so much to answer for" rang like a bell, forever positioning the Northern city (at least for mopey Anglophiles such as myself) as a place where creative melancholy always wins out—a city in which the industrial gray, bitter cold, and ceaseless rain helped to forever nourish great, hopeless art.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. 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.
MONEY are Manchester's most treasured secret. Whilst fellow residents Everything Everything and, defiantly, WU LYF took the plunge from arty college kids with guitars to globe-trotting underground iconography of the city, a modest tour off the back of MONEY's debut LP The Shadow of Heaven struggled to keep them away long enough for their Manchester rain-drenched morbidity to dry off. Although they spend the majority of its 43 minutes toying with new ideas, their second full-length record, Suicide Songs, is an unsurprisingly bleak affair.
Jamie Lee has never shied from the hardest problems. “Death is just an illusion — a high wall,” he wrote in the description to his band’s first single on YouTube, whose algorithms peg his music with ads for literal money bands. “It is not the end. There is no such thing as ‘the end.
MONEY’s second album ‘Suicide Songs’ isn’t shy of stating its intentions early. From the album title, to the graphic cover art, to song titles that range from the bordering on ridiculous ‘You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky’ to the bluntly bleak ‘Hopeless World’, the Manchester band aren’t afraid to give a lot away on a first impression. First impressions shouldn’t count for everything though, even ones as vivid as these, and ‘Suicide Songs’ is often more hopeful (and even pleasant and jangly in corners) than they might suggest.
On this, their second album, MONEY have created a difficult listen on two levels. Firstly, in creating a collection of songs which, if not directly about suicide, often convey a hopeless state of mind and heart. Secondly, owing to the awkward collision of some fine playing with a largely monotonous production and some painfully strained singing from vocalist/guitarist Jamie Lee.
In spite of the usual lull of a new year, this January, in particular, was jam-packed with loads of exciting releases that cover a whole gamut of styles and attitudes. Sometimes we just don't have the time and resources to cover them all, but that doesn't mean we're always listening. Below are some ….
Probably the most attractive thing about MONEY around the time that they released their first record, The Shadow of Heaven, was their willingness to embrace juxtaposition. Instrumentally, their tracks were so often beautifully measured, all shimmering guitars and sprawling soundscapes, and yet frontman Jamie Lee’s lyrics burned with real intensity. At a hometown show in Manchester in 2013, they relayed the record with precision and poise, but not before Lee had warmed the crowd up with a decidedly ramshackle rendition of The Pogues’ “A Pair of Brown Eyes”, bottle of whisky in hand.