Music Editor, Holly Alder, attends Ballymun-band Bricknasty’s album listening party for the first listen of their debut album INA CRUELER in Hen’s Teeth, Dublin 8.
Whether you are involved with or merely interested in the Irish music scene, Bricknasty will undoubtedly be a name that is familiar to you. Over the last year, the now five-piece band have been consistently proving themselves to be better than before, from being signed to independent music label FAMM at the beginning of this year alongside artists such as Jorja Smith and Maverick Sabre to the release of their first album INA CRUELER in June of 2023. This release has moved Bricknasty from the status of up-and-coming to a fully-fledged artist, allowing them to gather a loyal fan base along the way. With frontman Fatboy’s soulful vocals to the jazz-infused melodies created by the talented musicians within the group, it is of no surprise that the album was an instant hit with fans, following up from the release of singles such as ‘Ducks Ina Row’ and ‘Fashion.’
Before the initial release of INA CRUELER, Bricknasty announced a listening party that was to be held in Dublin venue Hen’s Teeth. I was lucky enough to get to attend, as the first batch of free tickets sold out almost instantly. Arriving at the venue, it was clear how much love and support Bricknasty’s family, friends and fans have for them. The venue continued to fill up over the next hour and by the time the album was about to be played, the crowd was shoulder to shoulder. Fatboy gave a heartfelt speech, crediting his mother, sister and band members for all they have done in support of the album. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the venue when Fatboy wrapped up and announced that the album was about to play. After a few short technical difficulties, the first track began and the entire room fell silent.
The album, which opens with a one-minute track simply entitled ‘Ballymun’ while featuring a male voice speaking about Fatboy’s native hometown of the same name, tells the story of the front man’s upbringing and specifically the story of Ballymun, a Dublin suburb that suffered through a harrowing heroin epidemic in the 1990s and is known for the nationally famous Ballymun flats. This opening track features a melodic tune that progresses from keys to saxophone as the voiceover explains how ‘when heroin hit the country you know [Ballymun] became a very lucrative area to sell drugs because people with trauma use drugs to overcome psychological pain.’ Despite the opening track to the album being short, it’s impactful and informative, while simultaneously acting as an opening statement for the rest of the album's narrative. The album immediately moves into the second track titled ‘Guilt2001’, which instantly got the crowd moving to its upbeat and poppy sound. The track features soft and sweet vocals from Dublin-based singer-songwriter Tomike which are contrasted beautifully by a female voice speaking over the snappy beat in a charming and quite frankly comforting Irish accent. ‘Guilt2001’ is undoubtedly a fan favourite, being one of the most streamed tracks of Bricknasty’s on Spotify as of today. This comes as no surprise after witnessing the reaction to the track from the band's supporters during the listening party.
After ‘Guilt2001’ played, the dancing, singing and supportive whoops and hollers from the crowd continued as long as the album did. With many of the tracks featuring a blend of soulful R&B, jazz, pop and nods to hip-hop, it was evident that something special was taking place in Hen’s Teeth that evening. Tracks such as ‘Grace of God’ and ‘Prazsky,’ with its namesake being a cheap Czech beer most Irish young adults are well acquainted with, pulled on the crowd's heartstrings in between the buzzy and melodic beats of tracks like ‘Fashion’ and ‘Judo Throw,’ instantly drowning the room in silence between dance breaks. ‘Prazsky’ is a personal favourite, with Fatboy emotionally and vulnerably rapping about a personal experience before the song breaks into a cheerfully whistled tune. ‘Grace of God’ slows down the album with a stripped-back acoustic melody that shows off Fatboy’s raw and heartfelt vocals. The entirety of the album displays the band's unique musicianship paired with their brilliant storytelling skills, and when the album finished it felt almost as if I had read an autobiography from start to finish in the space of 20 minutes. The room burst into a cheer when the last title track finished. I was surprised it was all over, considering I felt like I could have listened for 20 minutes more.
Stream INA CRUELER on all major streaming platforms now.