Some albums are cathartic to listen to. Others are challenging affairs that make us feel uneasy. Rarely can a record achieve both, Fear’s debut offering Oíche is one such album.
There’s nothing easy about Oíche. Darkly lit, abstracted and contrasted, the music of Oíche merges a deep feeling of foreboding and fragility within a sound that confronts but never isolates the listener fully. Leaving us with just enough to hang on and convey the thematic threads the comprise the record.
Opening with the pensive ‘h_always’, Fears holds nothing back as she delivers lines like “I’m black and blue on the inside too” over a stark guitar rhythm, icy textures and momentary beat. This lyrical rawness, coupled with a sound that matches the mood, makes for a striking beginning and introduces us to an album where bare-bone honesty is its foundation.
Throughout Oíche, minimalist production perfectly sets the tone for the tidal emotional weight of the songwriting. From the tense, relentless beat of ‘vines’ to the spartan slow-burn of ‘Blood’, Fears maintains the over-arching wrought nature of Oíche. In songs like the textural ‘dents’ ‘, Fears words take on a hypnotic feel as the music builds in turn, mirroring the records own internal sense of thematic motion.
However, it’s in the restless motion of ‘Fabric’ where Oíche hits its high-water mark. Fears arresting lyrical introspection comes to the fore with “talking to people that you think care about you, it’s a fabrication of what you want to be true.” While the beat itself makes use of its minimal scope, conveying the need to escape while being held back externally and internally, “I try to run, and I feel like I’m in slow motion”.
And so it goes, self-confrontation through sonic brutalism. Fears’ Oíche is an album that delves deep into its creator while never leaving the listener feeling stranded or apart from the meaning. A challenging album where everything is laid bare, Fears adds enough to the music and the words to create a sense of artistic catharsis. Indeed, this is a record where the music and the artist is one and the same. Fears is Oíche, Oíche is Fears.