I sometimes think of life and time, of days gone by, of the good and bad, the crazy and the mad, and how life is of the now, of the then, and of the zen. We’re not who we were, yet who we were has fueled who we are—just as who we are will inform who we become. Life consists of persistent metamorphosis, in other words, with the changes brought about by both internal and external forces. (Thus, Popeye the Sailor Man was wrong when he exclaimed, “I yam what I yam and that’s all what I yam.” In truth, he is who he is, was and will be.)
Confused? Read on.
Albert Einstein posited long ago that time is the fourth dimension (alongside height, length and width). One result, if true, is that—as MIT philosopher Brad Skow has pointed out—the passage of time is akin to an optical illusion. Skow, as I’ve mentioned before, champions the “block universe theory,” which puts forth the notion that yesterday, today and tomorrow simultaneously exist within the box that is spacetime (yes, the theory packs all of spacetime into a box); within the construct, the future has already been written.
If that’s the case, somewhere in spacetime, the Dublin-based band Sprints is smack dab in the midst of a sold-out arena tour; I’m sure of that. Their second EP, the five song-strong A Modern Job, is high-octane rock ’n’ roll at its best, accented by fiery guitars, smoking rhythms and Karla Chubb’s snarling delivery. (It’s the “crazy and the mad” I reference in the opening paragraph.) It’s punk and new wave, angry and angsty, with its raw power encapsulating all the emotions of the past few years. It’s further proof that, despite the many obits written these past few years, rock music is not dead—it’s just relocated to Ireland. “Little Fix,” in which Chubbs and band seemingly channel The Patti Smith Group, is a great example.
The only downside: The EP runs faster than its 15 minutes, compacting time in a way that defies Skow’s conjectures. I’ve had it in heavy rotation these past few weeks; play it once and you’ll play it twice, thrice and more. It’s addictive.
Another Irish artist whose work defies time, albeit it in a different genre: singer-songwriter Niamh Regan, whose new In the Meantime EP—the “zen” I mention up top—picks up, sonically speaking, where her sublime Hemet album left off in 2020. The four-song outing is accented by acoustic guitars, heavenly melodies and Regan’s honey-roasted vocals, and feature lyrics that delve deep into the human condition. (In another era, she’d have been played on the radio alongside Jackson Browne, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell, among others.) If the “block universe theory” is true (and, honestly, I have my doubts), she’s likewise headlining major tours elsewhere within the spacetime box.
The opener, “Late Nights,” finds her contemplating the state of a relationship, while the video—as, these days, too many do—features a dance interpretation. The second song, “Love You Senseless,” explores how love can blind us to the issues faced by loved ones. “Happy Again,” the next track, is the first song she wrote following the release of Hemet; she said upon its release as a single last year, “It’s roughly about the work you do to turn things around or feel better again.” The gorgeous closing number, “Winter in Eden,” was written with Ciaran Lavery, who also sings on the song; it explores what Lavery calls “the quiet and content time in a relationship between two people,” but it’s more than just that. It’s stunning in both its beauty and simplicity.
Like the Sprints’ EP, the only negative thing I have to say about In the Meantime is that it will leave you wanting more. Which is all to say: If you’re in the mood to get your rocks off, crank up A Modern Job; and when you’re in a contemplative mood, give Niamh’s new one a go. You won’t go wrong with either.