The Band Of Holy Joy are a band with a long and colourful history, spanning three decades and even a stage performing alter-ego. They’ve got something of a cult edge to them, which is perfect situation for their artistic musical approach to be in. They’re allowed to be as artistic and self-indulgent as they want, and as art really should be, with no real commercial pressures to curb them.
And this environment produces tracks like ‘When A Gift Is A Curse’, the band’s latest track that attempts to tie-in to the world cup topicality by tackling the concept of self-destructive abilities and talents – with a focus on England legend George Best. Not the best grounds for a world cup anthem, but we’ll take it.
But ‘When A Gift Is A Curse’ is not an anthem, nor does it try to be. It instead focuses on hitting home with the heart as hard as possible. It’s something that the band have become quite good at in their time, and the lyrical narrative doesn’t disappoint.
But what does disappoint slightly, and only slightly, is the form that the song takes. It feels very simple and straightforward – a tale of two halves, which musically repeats almost identically. And while the vocal-only outro is perfect for the track, it can also be found mid-song and it doesn’t work as well as it should. It’s a musical break that seems a bit out of place.
The poetic and weighty lyrics are the centrepiece of the track, but we can’t forget that this is still a song. A song that needs the music to fit. And it doesn’t always. But when it all gets going again, you forget the break even happened. And I suppose it could be some musical representation of a football match with the two symmetrical halves and break in the middle, or some artsy stuff like that. But beyond artistic merit, it doesn’t do an awful lot for the track.
Sitting comfortably somewhere between David Bowie and Echo and The Bunnymen, ‘When A Gift Is A Curse’ is an enjoyable heart-scratching tale of the darker, more destructive, side of talent. It’s equally accessible and self-indulgent. And it’s out June 16. You can buy the album version of the track here.