After a blurry formation in 2014 and a self-titled EP in 2018, Bitch Falcon has finally released their gorgeous debut LP Staring At Clocks, striding into form with frontwoman Lizzie Fitzpatrick’s furiously incandescent vocals and kinetic, sweat-soaked instrumentals.
The band excels at combining a forward momentum with the nostalgic, 2009-reminiscent combination of post-punk/shoegaze that’s recently made a resurgence (from this year, Nothing’s The Great Dismal and Fearing’s Shadow come to mind). Comparisons to their Dublin noise rock peers are inevitable — Bitch Falcon meshes the nihilistic sound of Girl Band with the reverb-soaked wistfulness of Just Mustard, a combination that’s most prescient on lead single “Gaslight”. The guitars and percussion capture a perfectly measured instance of Bitch Falcon’s pit-black hostility, while still being beautifully tempered with Fitzpatrick’s faint, wordless calls and the contrast of a temporarily restrained bridge.
Noisier cuts like “Damp Breath” are led by unfairly brilliant, whip-percise percussion (courtesy of drummer Nigel Kenny) and songs like “Damp Breath” are remarkable in their melodic aggression, but “Test Trip” and “Martyr” end up as the back-to-back standout tracks here. The bright, windswept catharsis in the former’s chorus is nearly tangible, while the latter breathlessly ascends to its apex in careful, frenetic steps, finally crescendoing as frontwoman Lizzie Fitzpatrick lashes her meditative vocals into beautifully punctuating scream.
Despite the incredible potential here, both raw and realized, I don’t see Staring at Clocks as anywhere near a perfect debut — the build-up and release of emotion often rings too formulaic to truly resound, and cuts like the title track end up meditating too long on an idea and overstaying their welcome. But there is an incredible astringence in their furiously dark sound, a tremendous command in the sepulcher-echo vocals of Fitzpatrick — and with these, Bitch Falcon coolly prove that they remain a rare and exceptional force in underground rock.