Vampire towns, greedy cities, lost souls and hungry hearts. Billy McCarthy is a keen-eyed journeyman, biking across the US from his Brooklyn base to the LA suburbs or jetting away to Dublin and Devon, imagining stories in the random faces he passes on the way. The result, following 2011 debut Rise Ye Sunken Ships about his brother’s suicide, and a self-titled 2014 second tackling loneliness, is a third album encouraging drifting listeners to grab life by the balls.
Incorporating lustrous choirs and Senegalese singers Pape and Cheikh on the afrotronic Running In Place, it provides a grand, global freeway-rock vista, as much Serengeti as Death Valley. The songs are built on McCarthy’s glue-chewing vocals and the momentous concoctions of guitar, strings and aggressive electronics that multi-instrumentalist Eric Sanderson constructed alongside The National’s co-producer Peter Katis (and it shows).
Their bombastic pounds, chants and chunders can overwhelm weaker songs like the flailing Hold Me Loneliness, but Days Roll By, Are We Alive, When Things Fall Apart and the gorgeous Landmine will please anyone running short of reasons to gaze heroically into mountainous horizons.