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Bitch Falcon: Siouxsie, shoegaze and one of the best debut albums of 2020

A portrait of Bitch Falcon
(Image credit: Small Pond Records)

In a howl of screaming feedback, Bitch Falcon’s excellent debut, Staring At Clocks, confirms the arrival of one of Ireland’s most exciting bands. 

Combining the shimmering melody lines of 80s indie-pop enigmas Cocteau Twins, post-punk’s urgency, the raw edges of Seattle grunge and lush, claustrophobic shoegaze, the Irish trio have created a heavenly yet spiky squall. 

“I don’t think there’s anything that sounds like us,” says drummer Nigel Kenny. “And I think that’s because we’re not trying to sound like anything else.”

Bitch Falcon have been around since 2014, but it feels like the pan is now coming to the boil. Formed by force of nature guitarist and vocalist Lizzie Fitzpatrick, the band have worked through several personnel changes before landing on the current lineup of Lizzie, Nigel and bassist Barry O'Sullivan. 

In their early days, the band’s sound had veered towards blustery, bluesy rock'n'roll stompers, reminiscent of The Dead Weather. In 2015 they caused a buzz in the blogosphere with their track Syncope, and all of a sudden, with only a handful of tracks to their name and before they’d released their self-titled EP, they found themselves performing to packed rooms in Dublin. “Promoters were like, ‘Jesus, who are this band?’” says Nigel. “We had more people coming to the gigs than listening on Sound Cloud or Spotify.”

Things were moving fast but behind the scenes, the band was disillusioned, having started to outgrow their stomp rock influences. “I came to a point where I was writing music for what the band was rather than writing music that I wanted to write,” says Lizzie. “We were this band that got attention really quick, very early and we were writing music more for that,” adds Nigel. And then you’d find yourself on stage playing and going, ‘Why the fuck are we still playing this song?’”

“There were times when I was doing a bit of a Cocteau Twins and was just singing what I wanted,” continues Lizzie on just how much she had fallen out of love with the band’s early material at one point. “There’s one song I sang different things to every night! People were like, ‘You’re taking after Nirvana and slurring your words’ and I was like… Erm, yeaaaah.” 

Nigel bursts out laughing. “I never knew what you were singing, but I just assumed it was the same thing every night! I had no idea you were just making it up.”

According to Nigel, it was bassist Barry, who had previously been a mainstay on the black metal scene, whose arrival introduced a new influence to the ranks. “Things became a little bit darker,” he says. “And it created this new vibe.” 

As the band started jamming the tracks that would go on to make up Stare At Clocks, a new sound and a new energy started to emerge. The album sounds like an effortless whipping up of the elements – a choppy sea toiling against an ethereal sunset – which pulls from the seminal bands of the 80s and 90s – Siouxsie And The Banshees, Cocteau Twins, Nirvana and Slowdive. 

Amid the maelstrom of feedback and melody, Lizzie’s lyrics grapple with stress, depression and the head fuck of sexual desire, rubbing against brooding guitars and anxious stabbing basslines. It’s a dreamy yet restless concoction. 

For me, [single] Gaslight was the song,” says Nigel. “We were in the room and that song came together. We were all, ‘OK, this is what the band should sound like.” 

“It just started to come out of us,” agrees Lizzie. “It naturally stewed in us for so long, it was like a release. I wanted to make something that was more emotional but not moany, more powerful.”

Staring At Clocks is out now via Small Pond Records