The debut album from London-based Irish artist Constance Keane (a.k.a. Fears) is a truly gorgeous achievement. Oíche means “night” in Irish and it’s a fitting title for an album that’s best suited to nocturnal headphone listening. Combining stirring vocals, acoustic samples and moody electronic production to profound effect, Fears reveals a lush sound that’s simultaneously haunting and soothing.
Oíche is pervaded throughout by a foreboding sense of doom, and a deeper look into the lyrics and backstory of the album reveals why. Recorded over the span of five years, the album is a revealing, introspective look into a troubling time in Keane’s life. Described as “like a coming of age novel,” the album was partially created during Keane’s time in psychiatric care. This setting dictates much of the subject matter, as Keane expresses an openness and vulnerability about her struggles that’s rare in pop music these days.
While Fears’ unique sound brings to mind early Grimes or Purity Ring, it’s her delicate touch and use of spacing that really sets Oíche apart. The musical depth and subtlety really allow the lyrics and subject matter to sink in. It’s a striking debut from an artist I can’t wait to hear more from.