Music Review: Moved By Melancholy, Or The Rice Is Ready

April 9, 2015



Damien Rice: My Favourite Faded Fantasy


It’s been eight years since Damien Rice’s previous album and there are only eight tracks on this new collection, so the Irish singer-songwriter could hardly be accused of trying to flood his market; throwing material at his listeners and seeing what sticks. Nor could it be suggested that he’s spent his hiatus in some sort of mad musical scientist’s workshop, experimenting with rhythms and samples in order to create some previously unimagined new formula.

My Favourite Faded Fantasy sees Rice doing what he’s always done, placing his high-pitched, emotive vocals at the centre of an empty, often desolate, sometimes sinister soundscapes and colouring in the spaces with picked guitar, cello, delicate piano and other similar sounds that make you want to close your eyes when you solo slow-dance to the songs (sure, laugh – you’ll end up doing it too).

The title track flirts with radio-friendliness, growing in appeal with each successive listen. It Takes A Lot To Know A Man does something comparable, though the (hugely) extended outro will polarise listeners, being a fantastic way to spend four or so minutes for some and a confirmation of Rice’s ornery attitude for others.

The Greatest Bastard is wonderfully, expansively empty, a tune that could potentially be performed in the corner of a coffee shop (minus the introduction of the orchestra at the end) and would stand out in that context for being a touch more memorable lyrically.

So far so good, but by the time I Don’t Want To Change You, there’s a sense of Rice’s approach, as clean and classy as it is, not extending beyond a narrow range of fixed ideas. Listening to tracks in isolation reveals the quality of both the writing and performances involved, but the sound produced, spread over the 50-minute album time, becomes rather homogenous.

Put another way, it can be confirmed that few artists manage to convey melancholy with such exquisite loveliness, but equally, it remains true that gloom – even the most elegant sort – is not generally welcome for sustained periods.

  • My Favourite Faded Fantasy                          7.75
  • It Takes A Lot To Know A Man                       7.50
  • The Greatest Bastard                                      7.00
  • I Don’t Want To Change You                         6.75
  • Colour Me In                                                  7.50
  • The Box                                                          7.25
  • Trusty And True                                             7.50
  • Long Long Way                                             7.00

Rating: 7.281