Album Reviews - Reviews

The Needables – Tales From The Fish Tank


How good Country music is considered to be is typically based off one of two things: songwriting ability or the author’s authenticity. For the most part, it’s music meant for working men and women, those forgotten or left behind by society and longing for a return to some former clarity. If you look into the annals of great country music, an almost exaggerated number of its greatest heroes fit this mould to a tee; so it only makes sense that any individual or group that can capture that sense of sadness tinged with bitter optimism while having the appropriately solid tunes to back them up are duly rewarded. Listening back to the latest EP from Dublin’s Americana-loving, former fishermen folksters, The Needables, it’s hard not to hear both those fronts being consistently and thoroughly delivered in spades.

The record, Tales From The Fish Tank, starts off with ‘Bringing It Home’, a wonderful little Bluegrass ditty. It’s a nice introduction to the release that, while not exactly reinventing the washboard, captures the soul of these songs pretty succinctly and sets the tone very clearly: if you’re looking for some of that sweet sweet country music, then you’ve come to right place. Over its six tracks, the EP comfortably flirts around with the standard themes of the genre with the lyrics filled to the brim with heartbreak, death and regret. There is a clear thread of downheartedness throughout, which reaches its zenith with the 1-2 punch of ‘You Won’t Cry’ and ‘It’s Better Forgetting The Things You’ve Done’. The former is a deeply sincere, doleful lament to a lover featuring some show-stopping harmonies that evoke Dan Mangan’s ‘Sold’. The latter is probably the best song on the EP, where everything comes together in a truly splendid way. Its title and main refrain fit the genre seamlessly and with its reserved, defeated vocals, the whole thing has this deeply melancholic sense that never quite descends into the depths of doldrums; like Morrissey without moroseness. In the liner notes for the record, the duo admit that these two are the songs of which they are most proud, and in the case of ‘You Won’t Cry’ are the tracks they’ve worked on the hardest. That attention to detail and handmade sentiment permeates throughout both songs and gives that little extra hint of quality.

Sadly, that same devotion isn’t present on the other tracks and it really shows. None of them are bad, but when presented next to the pinnacle of your songwriting they’re always going to falter; it’s the ‘A Day In The Life’ problem. Each does have something to recommend though, be it the finger work on ‘Oh, Chicago’, the sweet nature of ‘Rainy Day Blues’ or the snippets of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Kumbaya’ conjured by ‘When We Lost Ya’. Tales From The Fish Tank is a lovely low-key release with some beautiful songs hand-crafted with pensive care and affection. Will Murphy