Sunday, 17 February 2008

Whipping Boy - Heartworm

Every now and again you stumble upon an album so astonishing in its brilliance, that you assume it must have sold by the truckload and somehow just passed you by. Sadly of course, this is often not the case. Music's illustrious history is liberally scattered with great albums which just didn't make it out into the wider consciousness, for one reason or another, and sometimes it just makes no sense.

Sometimes an album simply has the misfortune to be released at the wrong time. Such is the case with Heartworm, the second album from Irish indie-rockers Whipping Boy. Their debut effort, the long-deleted Submarine, could scarcely have sold fewer copies had they not released it at all. It offered nothing to suggest that Whipping Boy would be anything other than tiny fish in the crowded indie pond.

However, then came the startling, dark and emotional (not to mention briefly controversial) sophomore album that was Heartworm. Released in 1995, it was perhaps just a couple of years ahead of its time. Certainly, you only need to get halfway through opening track (and first single) "Twinkle" to see where Snow Patrol got their ideas from. Had this album come out in 1997 or 1998 (or perhaps later), it's not inconceivable that Whipping Boy would have been huge stars by now, and Snow Patrol would be dismissed as mere copyists.

It is perhaps unfair to labour the Snow Patrol comparisons. Whipping Boy's output is far darker in tone than Snow Patrol, not least on "We Don't Need Nobody Else", an almost spoken-word piece which delves into the dark heart of domestic violence. Lyrics like "I hit you for the first time today" (a chillingly-worded line if ever there was one) and "That really hurt, you said / Yeah / And you thought you knew me" led to misguided accusations of misogyny (presumably from critics who hadn't actually listened to the song). This is one of those rare songs that can send a shiver down the spine.

Both of those songs are included for download below, alongside "Users", another songwriting masterclass ("Remember how not long ago, we screwed away the pain").

Grab them all, and listen carefully. This lot really were as good as I say they were.

Download: Whipping Boy - Twinkle
Download: Whipping Boy - We Don't Need Nobody Else
Download: Whipping Boy - Users

There is an official website for Whipping Boy here but it doesn't appear to have been updated for a while - still worth a look though.

Most importantly, you can buy Heartworm here at Amazon UK (and it's pretty cheap too!) or at HMV (also cheap!) or wherever else you prefer to shop!

That's all for now, folks...

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