Album Review | A Litany Of Failures: Volume IV Is Another Spectacular Foray Into The Irish Indie Music Landscape

Way back in 2008, Pitchfork’s Ian Cohen wrote that “an ability to easily find free music combined with user-friendly web technology” meant that trying to keep up with new artists and bands was starting to feel “less like a labor of love and more like a crushing obligation.”

Fifteen years later, it’s never been easier to surrender to Cohen’s sentiment and retreat into the familiar territory of the music you already love and to leave the stressful business of discovering new sounds to teenagers and foolish music journalists. Fortunately for us, since their first release back in 2016, the folks behind A Litany of Failures have been getting their hands dirty with music discovery since so we don’t have to.

A Litany of Failures: Volume IV features some artists that will likely be familiar even to those with only a passing interest in the independent Irish music scene, such as Junior Brother whose ‘The Nothing Song’ is a sparse and beautiful highlight of the compilation and Junk Drawer (the best live act of 2022 according to the Northern Ireland Music Prize judges) who do their psychedelic krautrock thing to catchy effect on ‘Nids Niteca’.

Laurie Shaw might not be a household name yet, but the insanely prolific Wirral-born Ireland-dwelling songwriter certainly deserves to be. He contributes the groovy and sardonic ‘The Reunion’, a danceable character study about a romantic entanglement that begins in the frozen aisle of a supermarket and ends with our nostalgic hero confessing that he has a fetish for “going back to the beginning where everything was fuss free / everything was different / and love wasn’t houses and cars it was getting it on.”


Hamer Place’s ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Reading)’ shares some witty pop DNA with Shaw’s offering, and it’s probably the best two-minute power-pop song you’ll hear this year about reading a good book on a Saturday night while enjoying some snacks and a glass of cold milk.

To contrast the more recognisably indie sounds, there’s a stirringly confrontational energy shot through the album, kicked off by feminist post-punks M(h)aol and their short, punchy contribution ‘Jack Douglas’. This energy is carried through by Jinx Lennon and his schizophrenic folk rap, which sounds more relevant than ever when paired with the outlandish glitching noise of fellow Dundalker BABY NITS on ‘Fred Perry Far Right’, and reaches its peak with pounding industrial noise of Documenta’s ‘Feel Good About Yourself’ which lands just before the album enters its final quarter.

While the album seems to suggest that the guitar is still the primary instrument of the 2023 Irish indie landscape, there’s plenty of interesting electronic stuff happening too. The wistful and traditional plucking of strings is playfully transformed by a synth arpeggiator on Trá Pháidín’s ‘Na Láthaí Bándearga’ while ‘Hana’s House’ by icebar is a meditative slice of ambient electronica. The closing track, ‘Stay Away From My Window’ by MANTUA, is beautiful but in an abrasive kind of way, with Elaine Malone’s vocals slowly deteriorating into a grinding and reverberating fuzz.

A Litany of Failures: Volume IV is an eclectic triumph and a valuable reminder that even if you’re getting old and cynical and starting to feel like there’s nothing new under the musical sun, as Limerick’s Licehead reminds us in the chaotic trailer for this album, “there’s always fucking more.”

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.