Sparrow and the Workshop - Murderopolis (4 stars)

Third album from Glasgow rock-noir trio has psych-rock heart

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Sparrow and the Workshop - Murderopolis

(Song, By Toad)

This album starts with the words ‘when love was the greatest thing’ - and it is all you need to unravel the third long-player from a Glasgow rock-noir trio who variously conjure The Bad Seeds, The Shangri-Las, Johnny Cash and Melanie, and whose narratives are capricious and epic, just like the loves and the lives on this album - from the scorched Americana of ‘Avalanche of Lust’, to ‘Odessa’s spellbinding post-rock eulogy.

The record’s stirring salutation, ‘Valley of Death’, is a wonderful and profound vintage-pop serenade – an ode to reflection, life passing, and love, and an example of singer-songwriter Jill O’Sullivan’s voice at its thrilling finest. After its killer middle-eight – ‘forget about the fight, forget about who’s wrong, forget about who’s right, forget about the rain’ - cometh the choirs, like angels of death (metal), and their shadowy hallelujahs echo across Murderopolis, then climax on the near-death blues hallucination of ‘Shock, Shock’. That song also features one of many dulcet references to water, which variously serves as a conduit for alarm (‘cold water’) and struggle (‘swimming against the tide’)’; as a carnal necessity on the psych-rock heart of the LP, ‘Flower Bombs’ (‘wash me with your rough hands’); and - on the beatific, balmy purgatory of ‘Water Won’t Fall’ - as a symbol of grief, and of time standing still.

There are other, less comforting voices too, not least on gothic aria ‘Darkness’, which is dragged toward the underworld with hellish chanting, panic-punk and allusions to Beelzebub (‘stay on your hind legs’). But come the glorious swansong, ‘Autumn to Winter’, the burnished skies have faded, the years have passed, and we’re looking back at what once was - ‘I will remember your eyes as they shone in the sun’ - and although its title hints at myriad losses and multiple deaths, Murderopolis transpires to be a harmonious, enlightening state in which light and life and love are all you need.

Sparrow and the Workshop - Shock Shock

Sparrow & the Workshop

Alt.folk and rockier interludes from this Glasgow-based trio touting percussion, violin, guitar and Jill O'Sullivan's intoxicating voice.

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