Folk rock is a term that’s thrown around far too often these days, but really there’s been no better way to describe Sparrow and the Workshop... until now. With their third album, Murderopolis, the three-piece have unveiled a darker, edgier side to their music. Even the album title is bloody intimidating!
Murderopolis is a striking record: it captures the band’s electric live performances better than any of their records since debut EP Sleight of Hand, and adds a newfound harder edge. The distortion is fuzzier, the drums are punchier, and Jill O’Sullivan’s delectable vocals are laced with even more emotion. Throughout the record, though, the folky roots that make Sparrow and the Workshop great are ever-present.
Opener Valley of Death is delightfully melodious, and a recognisable starting point for fans of the band while Darkness, by contrast, bursts forth from a growling bass line into a beast of a track. Odessa then somehow combines the two styles into one delicious package, hopping between the serene and the ferocious. The album continues in this fashion, balancing delicate melodies with immensely powerful, visceral music and succeeding at every turn.
Throughout the record, tracks like rousing single Shock Shock and the vibraphone-fuelled Murderopolis shine brightly, while The Faster You Spin is – pure and simple – an explosion of glorious rock music designed to get the blood pumping through the listener's veins. Water Won’t Fall, Avalanche of Lust, Flower Bombs: each song lives up to its imaginative name, throwing the listener round various corners, twists and turns. Then, as the album draws to a close with The Glue That Binds Us and the sublime Autumn to Winter, it’s all over too quickly: eleven songs, thirty-eight minutes, one exhilarating experience.
Murderopolis exhibits not a new direction for Sparrow and the Workshop; rather, it’s another step along the path they were already treading. Stunning from the off, they have evolved into something quite magnificent and things can only get even better from here.
Murderopolis by Sparrow and the Workshop is out on the 27th of May via Song, by Toad Records.