Mojo Fury’s debut album, Visiting Hours of a Traveling Circus, begins in a twitchy, agitated fashion, before exploding into life with a riff the size of the Empire State Building. Considering that this record was years in the making, is it any wonder that the whole album is fused with this same nervous energy, a sense of anticipation flickering through every note?
The Lisburn quartet have been on the scene in Northern Ireland for a long time now. They have gone through various incarnations and line-up shifts, all but leaving behind their earliest efforts as a Nirvana inspired three-piece.
The earth shattering riffs are still in place, but the intervening years have brought a new dynamic to the band, which has taken them in a completely different direction. This is mature, confident rock, not afraid to mess with the dark stuff when the occasion dictates.
With echoes of Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, and Muse, Mojo Fury have pitched their music to the mainstream, but are canny enough to bend things a little out of shape. A seemingly straightforward riff will go off in an angular, unexpected direction, subtle electronic textures linger in the background, and the whole thing has a damaged and decadent feel to it - the hangover after the particularly debauched night before.
Tracks like ‘The Mann’ (listen below) and ‘Lemon Marine’ are muscular rockers, full of sinewy twists and turns, but the real emotional centre of the album comes through on ‘We Should Just Run Away’. This track glides along on a fluid keyboard line before erupting into an impassioned chorus, frontman Mike Mormecha imploring, 'Put your heart in my hands and just run.'
This emotional drama reaches a new level on ‘What a Secret’, where ethereal guitars soar along a bed of rumbling bass and guitar. Mormecha brings a suitably theatrical presence to the proceedings - part tormented artist, part louche lothario - whilst the band push and pull themselves in different directions in a streamlined explosion of sound.
Occasionally, Mormecha's lyrics can verge on parody - with the band setting themselves up as dark princes revelling in things they shouldn’t - but this kind of roleplaying comes with the territory. Whether the mainstream actually takes to it is another matter.
Mojo Fury’s love of dark theatrics requires the complete subscription of the listener, a willingness to go along with them for the whole journey. If you don’t buy into Mojo Fury from the start, it’s unlikely they’re going to win you over halfway through this album.
Despite the album’s long gestation period, however, it retains a freshness and sense of flux: this is where Mojo Fury at now, but is it where they will be in a year's time? What will album number two - if it ever arrives - sound like in turn? For now all Mojo Fury need is for the world to fall in love with them, otherwise it’s going to be a long and lonely road to wherever they want to go.