Home Read Classic Album Review: Clann Zú | Black Coats And Bandages

Classic Album Review: Clann Zú | Black Coats And Bandages

The Irish-Australian outfit skirt the sophomore slump with this adventurous outing.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


It takes some stones to make a second album that sounds nothing like your first. But it takes some real skill and inspiration to make one that also sounds vastly better.

That, I am pleased to report, is the impressive trick that pan-cultural outfit Clann Zú have pulled off with their fiercely original sophomore disc Black Coats and Bandages. Discarding the joyful Celtic-folk influences and upbeat trip-hoppy grooves of their fascinating 2003 debut Rua, Irish frontman Declan de Barra and his Australian bandmates chart a new course for a dark, introspective netherworld of alienation and desperation. These 10 cuts mix and match a bold array of influences — Radiohead’s post-rock psychedelia, angular Captain Beefheart guitars, lumpy Middle Eastern snake-charm grooves, Tom Waitsian noir and Nick Cave-like balladry, to name but a few — that serve as the starkly artful setting for de Barra’s keening vocals and lyrical miasma. Whether or not you’ve heard Clann Zú before, you’ve never heard anything like it.