Irish post-punk five-piece M(h)aol have finally released their debut album Attachment Styles, a long-simmering collection of songs fueled dually by the band’s virulent empathy and acerbic wit. Across ten songs led by vocalist Róisín Nic Ghearailt, the group wrangles all their biting woes against the suffocating cloud of patriarchal aggression into explosive and slow-burning anthems alike. Produced by band member Jamie Hyland, the sonic underpinnings of the album serve as the blistering punctuations of Ghearailt’s unbridled lyricism.
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True to the album’s title, Attachment Styles hones in on the ways we can both damage and uplift one another via the myriad of ways people find themselves attached to others. Album opener “Asking For It” grinds down in unblinking rage against sexual assault and rape; while the fiery declarations in “No One Ever Talks To Us” drone against frayed guitars as Ghearailt presents the absurd ways men only approach them for sex instead of meaningful connection.
A point that was driven home on the previous track “Bored of Men,” a jittery cacophony that drives home the fatigue attached to the constant circus (especially in the media) of hearing about toxic men either getting caught or getting away with whatever it is they’ve done. Later in the album “Nice Guys” attacks the hypocrisy and ulterior motives of men who superficially try to separate themselves from the pack.
But Attachment Styles doesn’t just rage against patriarchal control, it also attacks the narrow boxes such a society puts its people in. Spoken word piece “Bisexual Anxiety” moves through the fluidness of sexuality and identity, while also calling to action the necessity of voicing action against harmful heteronormativity. Then there’s “Femme” where Ghearailt rapidly muses over all the tenacious anxieties she has in expressing (or not) her own idea of femininity in light of her own queerness — all delivered via distorted and foreboding soundscapes edged to a triumphant clamor.
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Words: Steven Ward
Listen to Attachment Styles the new album from M(h)aol below!