Fears: Oíche review – Haunted electropop for the still of the night

The spectre of trauma hangs over Constance Keane’s debut album

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Artist: Fears
Genre: Pop
Label: Tulle

Constance Keane’s debut album has been five years in the making, and the London-based Dubliner has certainly been through a lot during its gestation. Part of her first album as Fears – aptly described as a “like a coming-of-age novel” – was written and recorded during her stint in psychiatric care.

The spectre of trauma looms large on this album, but there is never a sense that Keane is trying to outrun or discredit it; instead, songs such as H_Always, Bones and Dents seem to both accept and embrace her period of ill health, with lines such as “I’m black and blue on the inside, too” and “I wish I could escape / I’m so sorry for the mess I made”. Such frankness and vulnerability in pop music is both rare and refreshing; the self-awareness on Fabric or the fragile Two_ are undeniably admirable and also not without the sentiment of hope.

Fears’ musical palette matches the slow-moving and self-reflective nature of these songs. Sparse production, the icy electronic snap of a drumbeat or a distorted vocal matching her own glacial voice place her lyrics to the fore; the finespun nature of these tracks gives them the space to fully land and resonate with the listener. These atmospheric, introspective electropop songs are best enjoyed on headphones – and as the title suggests, preferably in the stillest, darkest part of the night.