Damien Rice - 9

If it's not broke...

Album Review by Finbarr Bermingham | 12 Dec 2006
  • 9
Album title: 9
Artist: Damien Rice
Label: Heffa
Regardless of what is written about this album, it will be huge. Released in the run up to Christmas, don't bank against this appearing in your stocking. One would be forgiven for considering Damien Rice a veteran performer - he seems to have been around for aeons. O, although a work of beauty, has been flogged to death. Rice has been touring the album since before records began and tracks have been popping up here, there and everywhere in both the commerical and creative world. Perhaps partly due to O's omnipresence and his incessent endorsements (celebs have been falling over each other to get a good slap at his back and the trophy cabinet in his living room is groaning under the weight of the gongs he's been picking up left, right and centre) Rice has also accrued the customary band of aristarchs that come with his recently elevated territory. About time he released another record then, eh? But how do you follow up one of the most successful critically acclaimed albums of the past few years then? With more of the same, it would seem.

Ushered in by the familiar tones of frequent collaborator Lisa Hannigan, 9 shows that Rice is a true believer in the old "if it's not broke..." aphorism. Opening track and lead single '9 Crimes' finds Rice in his regulatory reflective form, exchanging verses and confessions with Hannigan. 'The Animals Were Gone' ensues with its "waking up without you/ is like drinking from an empty cup" refrain. And on to 'Elephant', originally called 'Blower's Daughter 2', obvious upon listening. Combined, this triplet of songs could well have been the final tracks of O. Lyrically, it seems Rice has experienced little cheer in the interim, despite all his commendation. Whoever this girl is, she must be a proper bitch.

Rice's remarkable ability to convert his mental state into a melancholic melody is matched by his scene setting observational craftsmanship ("I love your depression and I love your double chin"). Predictably fashioned for the most part from acoustic intricacies and delicate pianos, this, like its predecessor, has obviously been burning inside Rice for some time, which is why it's not an immediate listen. 'Coconut Skins' (with a surprising upping of the tempo), 'Me, My Yoke And I' (featuring an electric guitar, if you will) and the haunting 'Accidental Babies' are among the highlights here. As an album, it is an unashamed extension of O and detractors will almost certainly be sharpening their tongues, but it would have been criminal to leave these songs unwritten, even if they will be rammed down our throats for the remainder of the year.
Release Date: Out now. http://damienrice.com