Written by: Alex Green
Since the late ‘80s Nick Kelly has quietly been one of rock and roll’s most enduring poet laureates.
The former singer of Ireland’s beloved Fat Lady Sings, Kelly now fronts Alien Envoy who, thanks to Kelly’s unmistakable delivery, are not dissimilar to his old outfit,.
But while The Fat Lady Sings’ songbook cataloged the ways that the heart can break, Alien Envoy’s seems more about the ways to put it back together again. Summoning the resolve that Yeats demonstrated in “Men Improve With The Years,” the band’s new long player Loads, is a thoughtful reminder that it’s better to be a “weather-worn, marble triton among the streams” than to be nothing at all.
And Kelly, who is one of the most focused and soulfully precise writers in modern music, sings away from the abyss and chooses instead to stare life straight in the face. As a result, the songs on Loads are affirming, energizing and deeply moving. Barely two-minutes long, the opener “Resolution” is a set of spoken word mantras set to a spare percussive beat that suddenly explodes and finds Kelly at the top of his lungs promising: “I will not fear death/And I will not fear life…”
The second track “Nothing Left To Do But To Dance” is a jangling winner that pounds away with a relentless refusal to accept the limitations of mortality. Or, as Kelly told me late last year about the song, it’s “…aware of it but refusing to be anything but swaggering in its face.” The introspective “Bitter Batter Bee” which has Kelly swearing, “I’ll make you believe in me,” is awash with crushing crescendos, “Save Pluto” is a jaunty acoustic shuffle about fear and the lone piano number “Small Loads,” does more in a minute and a half than most bands do in their entire careers.
Later, “Sunny” is a soaring spring hymn; “Break America” comes across as an autobiographical narrative that tells the story of The Fat Lady Sings’ stateside saga, and the rousing album closing “Hold On To Your Soul” is rife with handclaps and chiming guitars and one of the biggest choruses of the year.
You can order the limited edition vinyl pressing of Loads here: