Acoustic guitars and pretty harmonies, Eskimos Fall tug hard at the heart strings. Click Play Audio for a podcast and EP version of 'Please'
The summer sunshine returns to bathe the capital in its splendid rays, yet still the people of Belfast aren’t happy. It’s lunchtime, and City Hall is littered with workers intent on topping up their suntans before trudging back to their respective professional purgatories. In the meantime, they sit in relative silence, avoiding eye contact and munching on sandwiches like asylum inmates.
Don’t the Irish have an international reputation for being fun-loving and frivolous? So what’s up with all the sorry faces, all the shifty glances? Where did all the love go? Perhaps that’s it now, emanating from the City Hall gates, in two-part male harmony underpinned by acoustic guitar.
Eskimos Fall, that’s where all the love has gone.
‘We’ll play anywhere,’ says Peter McVeigh, founder and (initially, at least) prime songwriter with the Belfast foursome. ‘There’s nothing like a bit of busking to get the blood flowing.’
Even if you don't appreciate their soft rock approach, you can't help but admire Eskimos Fall for doing what they love best: playing music, and playing it loud.
It’s not very often that a band cite the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls and Travis as musical influences in the post-Strokes, image-over-substance era. But McVeigh and his band of lovestruck men wear their heart on their sleeve.
So what can people expect from the band’s debut EP, the decidedly 1990s sounding Stand Tall, which the band are set to launch with a gig in Belfast’s Spring & Airbrake on June 5.
’Lovemaking music,’ says lead guitar player Ross Maguire, who, with his Thor-like ginger beard and mop of red hair proceeds to defy expectations with his lighter-than-a-feather tenor backing vocals and softly, softly lead guitar scales.
‘Most of my influences are American,’ says McVeigh, a former solo artist who formed the band with the intention of ‘adding a new dimension to my music’.
‘With our sound, we’re not afraid to be pop-ish. We try to make beautiful music. That’s the sort of thing we really go for. That’s why we have strings, violins and clarinet on some of the tracks.
‘We want to put on a show. We’ve nothing against downstrokes, because there are some people who are really good at it. But everybody’s doing it at the moment. I haven’t seen an acoustic guitar in a band for years.’
Another thing that sets Eskimos Fall apart from many of their contemporaries is McVeigh's willingness to be subjective in his lyrics.
Although the majority of the songs featured on Stand Tall find their subject matter in broken relationships and their inevitable consequences, 'Please' stands out as a particularly astute examination of the effects that suicide can have on those family members and friends left behind.
Here McVeigh's voice is at its most delicate, his lyrics insightful, sensitive and direct. 'Please don't feel this is what you have to do, and please don't feel that I'm depending on you.'
'Please' is the kind of song destined to crop up during that heart-rending montage denoument of ER or any of the other US melodramas. A pay day in waiting for Eskimos Fall.
It might be a little saccharine, and not to everyone's taste. But 'Please' is as finely crafted and executed as anything Snow Patrol or Foy Vance have produced to date, and in the right hands, it could take the band to the very top.
'I love stories in songs,' says McVeigh. 'I think it should always be about the story. I know there are songs that are fantastic singalongs and they mean nothing at all, and that's fine. But for me, I always choose my lyrics carefully.
''Please' was written from the perspective of a friend. It's about all the questions that you would ask yourself if you were in that position.'
Their influences might not be in vogue. They don't wear brown bead necklaces or boho-chic floppy hats, and they stear clear of the downstroke guitar style. But that doesn't mean that Eskimos Fall don't know exactly who and what they are - rockers with a penchant for poignant lyrics, touching melodies and stomping, anthemic grooves.
What's even more unusual, perhaps, is the fact that Eskimos Fall have produced an EP as polished and radio-friendly as anything to come out of Northern Ireland since the turn of the century. Definitely one for the couples crowd, Eskimos Fall are sure to tug at the heart strings. Give them some love. They deserve it.
Eskimos Fall launch their Stand Tall EP at the Spring & Airbrake on June 5.