The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album Busy Whisper by Pearse McGloughlin

Review Snapshot: Busy Whisper is a haunting collection of ten songs that reflect on those moments of longing that appear to happen in the peripheral.  Sparse without being bleak, Busy Whisper sees McGloughlin emerge as one of Ireland's finest song writing talents.

The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10

Full Review:
The name Pearse McGloughlin might not mean anything to you now, but I don't doubt that it will become a great deal more familiar when Busy Whisper makes its way on to many end of year 'best of' lists.  Full of ghostly compositions and tender melodies, it is hard to believe that Busy Whisper is a debut album and yet it is, perhaps, the finest Irish solo record I've heard since Damien Rice released O.

I've always found that one of the most disappointing aspects of real life is that it doesn't come with its own soundtrack, unlike movies and TV.  If real life did have a soundtrack then Busy Whisper would provide the perfect accompaniment to those moments when memories that have stood quietly in the shadows for so long finally take centre stage. Opening with the wonderfully arranged L'espoir des Revenants, the first thing that strikes you about McGloughlin is how powerful his voice is.

McGloughlin's vocals are without a doubt his most effective instrument and serves as the perfect foil to the sparse layers upon microscopic layers of multi-instrumentation that colour the majority of tracks on Busy Whisper.  Indeed, McGloughlin's voice is so good; it takes a number of listens to fully appreciate his talent as a lyricist and musician.  Ways to Kill a Werewolf and Passion Song deal with the surreal and the (relatively) mundane respectively and yet, such is McGloughlin's ability as a songwriter, you can't help but be drawn into the both worlds.  

Busy Whisper is exactly the sort of album that should see the LP survive as a format.  There is no filler here and stand-out tracks are plentiful.  Consume, Changeling and Long Day are exceptionally good but my own personal favourite is Saul (oh, you foolish Alice!) if only for the lyric: Met Saul last night/In a brawl/Still talking like he's in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas/Says his job makes his skin crawl/Gotta get away/Soon as he gets some of that overtime pay.

Overall, Busy Whisper is a stunningly good debut album that showcases Pearse McGloughlin as one of Ireland's brightest musical prospects.

Steve O'Rourke

DOI: Busy Whisper was produced, in the main, by my fellow CLUAS writer Andy Knightley.  This had no effect on my review but I felt it was worth declaring.

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