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Galway's The Clockworks release debut album Exit Strategy

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Mirroring their own move from Galway to London, The Clockworks' first album Exit Strategy shows maturity and melancholy.

Galway band The Clockworks release debut album Exit Strategy

When we talked to The Clockworks' frontman James McGregor for the Blowtorch Records podcast in September 2020, his lyric writing technique was already firmly in place. Cafes, eyes and ears open, observations, notebooks.

An exemplar might be Enough Is Never Enough first released in November 2020 and now rerecorded for the debut album Exit Strategy. Literally set in a cafe, the protagonist "... barges into a cafe he owns, to bark marching orders at poor kitchen porters". It typifies McGregor's knack for blending acute observations of flawed humans into a wider social context - and also his mastery of a half rhyme. Later in the song he notes that "... there's no romance in poverty when dinner is a novelty".

When we interviewed the band prior to their November 2022 Galway gig, guitarist Sean noted that "we didn't want to put out an album until we knew there were enough people who wanted to hear it and until we were ready. For years people have been asking 'when's the album' and we always just said next year."

And now next year is here and it's worth the wait. Every element is in place to make the album what we, and no doubt they, wanted - sharp lyrics, stark arrangements and shimmering melodies all expertly marshalled by producer Bernard Butler.

Our Scottish correspondent Julia Mason has penned an excellent full review of the album and there is no need for a rehash here. What stands out for us is the extra depth the wait has brought. The band's lived experience of moving to London from Galway infuses the album's own narrative and provides a strong spine of authenticity and maturity.

Exit Strategy trusts in its own strength with no need for that refuge of lesser talents - overblown irony. Further, the well trodden path of Irish emigration to London, so often bitter sweet and bathed in sadness, brings a note of longing and melancholy to the album which elevates it above the quotidian. As their fellow country man Oscar Wilde noted "music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory".


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