The Mighty Stef // TMS & the Baptists review
I did almost a 360 u-turn on this record. At first, I thought it was a huge step down from the last album. The more I listened to it, though, the more I realised it’s probably his best work to date and definitely his most coherent. ‘John the Baptist (Part 2)’ and ‘Jeffrey Lee Pierce’ are practically flawless.
Dubliner Stefan Murphy, better known as The Mighty Stef, could hardly have timed the release of his latest single with any more precision. ‘We Want Blood,’ the lead track from his third album TMS & the Baptists, dropped in mid-November, just as Europe and the markets finally called time on the government’s attempted recovery. That it was the Germans who blew the final whistle was only fitting – the album was recorded in Berlin with veteran punk producer Tom Schwoll.
The so-called Baptists are in fact a band drawn from three Dublin bands: Humanzi, Howlin Dowlin and The Last Tycoons. 2008’s 100 Midnights featured a diverse array of styles and genres that worked more often than not, but often the record felt more like a collection of very good songs rather than a very good album. With the benefit of a settled band behind it, TMS & the Baptists has a much more organic feel, and the still-wide range of influences is brought together with minimal fuss.
Seasoned Stefographers will be aware that his music is rarely, if ever, explicitly political so ‘We Want Blood’ (not his use of “we” rather than “I”) comes as a bit of a shock. Despite the provocative title, the song is as much a statement of helplessness and exasperation as it is a call to arms, though the line “let the scarlet red river turn our city into mud” cuts deeply. Somewhat surprisingly, given the times that we live in, ‘We Want Blood’ is the only song of its type on the album, and the remaining eight tracks are more or less what we’ve come to expect from Stef: highly personal, piercingly insightful musings on the human spirit with a solid blues-rock core.
Read the full review at State.ie.
The Mighty Stef – ‘John the Baptist (Part 2):