The Atrix: Dublin 1979-1981 review – Forgotten Irish art-pop gems
In any music scene there are always a few gems that slip through the cracks. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, bands such as U2 and The Boomtown Rats were beginning to make global waves; at home, punk acts such as The Radiators and The Virgin Prunes shaped the native scene. Somewhere in the mix, The Atrix were lost in the mists of time.
A band beloved by musos of the era but a name unfamiliar to younger generations, the northside Dubliners’ blend of pop, new wave and theatrical cabaret inspired by 1930s Berlin remains unusual to this day.
This reappraisal of their short recording career is an intriguing listen. Their late frontman John Borrowman was a talented vocalist, angling his voice to suit the spiky swagger of Treasure on the Wasteland (produced by Midge Ure) and the slinky slither of It’s Taboo with poise.
Surprising moments leap out amidst the myriad art-pop numbers, such as the Sparks-esque I Wonder Why, the almost tropical pop tilt of Sweet Memory, the funereal organ-enhanced No So Rare and eerie Memory Lane.
There’s a rough charm to these songs, but a charm nonetheless.