Authenticity, by its definition, is impossible to fake. What is singular stands out because it’s exactly that, singular. Sinéad O’Brien occupies the periphery, cutting the figure of a commanding post-punk poet calling us to the edges and out of the mainstream. O’Brien’s debut offering Time Bend and Break the Bower is a tangled tapestry of word, sound and fury, an affirmation of the artist as something different, the other.
The buzzing backdrop of ‘Pain Is The Fashion Of The Spirit’ sets Time Bend and Break the Bower’s sonic scene succinctly. Tense, the tightened post-punk music rests uneasily yet patiently beneath Sinéad O’Brien precise, unshakable voice. This mirroring of moods and tones is essential to the record. On songs like the alternative-dance infused ’Like Culture’, every word, rhythm, and driving guitar line push and pull at one another dynamically. Constructing an album of definition and direction.
However, its Sinéad O’Brien twisting and turning of phrase that lifts Time Bend and Break the Bower above everything else happening on the scene. Lines like “Fearful beauty looks into the lowliness of submission. Burnt and bleached by desert suns. Praise the vision who returns. In multitudes comes and comes” fall within the track ’Multitudes’ with weight and purpose. Every angular, entangled line has meaning, as O’Brien’s performance dominates the foreground so no word goes by unnoticed. Abstract and evocative, the singular passages found on ’Holy Country’ (see; ”The giants of time are turning tunes”) and ‘There Are Good Times Coming’ (see; ”I am the power of double my strength”) strike with ruthless precision.
‘Girlkind’ is where all points converge. The music growls, screeches and bites behind Sinéad O’Brien’s snarled performance with an intensity that’s impossible to ignore. “It may be soon time to celebrate. Our strandedness in the liminal space” and “You have not lost your spirit. Think of the morning. For what tomorrow will bring ya” are delivered above a whirlwind of turbulent sound with a certainty that draws you further and further into the world of Time Bend and Break the Bower.
And so it goes, what is singular must stand alone, abstract from everything else. Time Bend and Break the Bower is the other, the unknown. Through Sinéad O’Brien’s sheer undefinable presence the album is a triumph of individuality and voice. A tour de force from start to finish, no album this year will hit or sound like Time Bend and Break the Bower. That’s authenticity, that’s singularity.