In 2013, MONEY released their acclaimed debut album The Shadow Of Heaven, following only a handful of concerts that felt more like communions in out-of-the-way venues, advertised only by word-of-mouth. The record sounded similarly crafted – all haunted melody and atmosphere, invested with an unusually ambitious and uncompromising lyrical zeal. This was a band that invested as much in what they meant as how they sounded.
Two years on, the new MONEY album, Suicide Songs, takes you deeper into their sound and vision. It feels more advanced and yet simpler, more perfected and yet more open. It is, by turns, a tender, barren, cavernous, smouldering, despairing and inspirational piece of work. It’s a long day’s journey into night, but it pays huge dividends when you arrive, drawing you in and casting a spell that won’t let go.
Yet as with many great albums, and perhaps appropriately given its title, the creation of Suicide Songs was far from an easy ride. In 2014 singer Jamie Lee moved back to London, with, “the objective of becoming the best writer I could be, writing poetry as well as songs that were connected as kin.” Meanwhile, Billy and Charlie continued to write and produce music in Manchester. Reunited in the city of their formation, Jamie recalls drunkenness and mental ill-health, lost in self-doubt, of “internal disputes about the music’s direction… songs but no palpable direction. The outlook was often fairly bleak. But we stuck together.” Producer Charlie Andrew persuaded MONEY to relocate back to South London and after three months of creativity in a Brixton studio all the earlier strife was suddenly worth it as MONEY emerged with the magnificent Suicide Songs.
The album finds the band gelling as never before, framing Jamie’s poetic vision with an intuitive grasp of the album’s dignified and despairing themes. There are strings and brass, gospel-style backing vocals, and the (Indian stringed) dilruba on the opening ‘I Am The Lord’. This collectively adds more divine dimensions to the band’s sound, embellishments that MONEY didn’t have the confidence to try out on their debut.
Out of a renewed, richer palate of sound, a sense of greater self-belief has emerged. But as its title suggests, Suicide Songs doesn’t shirk from the emotional truths that birthed it. “I wanted the album to sound like it was ‘coming from death’ which is where these songs emerged,” Jamie explains. “The record is morbid and bleak, and never resolves itself. The only real kind of triumphant realisation is being able to express the morbidity of the situation I found myself in.”
Suicide Songs, which will be released 29th January on Bella Union.