We Cut Corners: Determined to turn life experiences to art

by James Hendicott

After a break of over a year following the release of latest record IMPOSTERS, We Cut Corners returned to music determined – as they have been in the past – to convert their experiences gathered away from music into art.

New EP ‘Muscle Memory’ is, perhaps, a nod to the way the duo – teachers in their day jobs – continue to function in musical ‘shifts’, returning in productive periods to bounce onto the Choice Music Prize shortlist, or deliver the most vocally beautiful, rapidly-morphing songs that bounce from White Stripes-like rock to delicate, emotional ballads.

‘Muscle memory’, string-man with the Dublin-based band John Duignan explains, is focused very much on the idea of domesticity, psychology, and absence. 

“After the release of IMPOSTORS in 2018, we took about a year away from formal band duties to dwell in the domestic for a bit,” Duignan explains. “As is so often the case, those down-times are the most fertile in terms of writing and it wasn’t long before we were back sharing ideas over email and piecing together the current EP..”

“The title track is a pretty emblematic of the collection,” he continues, “detailing the protagonist’s psychological unravelling in the face of the physical absence of a loved one. Thematically, the songs on the EP are pretty disparate but there was definitely a sense of heightened neurosis that fed into their composition. Too much domestic time perhaps!”

The four-track contains a colourful variety of styles. On the title track, ‘Muscle Memory’, Duignan describes “taking a look at the country’s institutional past and the legacy that is still culturally palpable here. It’s a rally-cry against repression really,” while ‘Mystery Illness’ another stand-out, is “an absolutely full-on, unabashed, bare-faced love song. Having resisted the urge to even use the word love for the first four albums, it seemed reasonable to pen a tune where every line begins with ‘I love you…’.”

We Cut Corners have managed to get together during lockdown, occasionally, and have acoustic versions of the tracks from the EP for launch in the coming weeks, thanks to that time spent together. The lockdown has certainly changed their perspective on the work they do, however.

“It’s changed our view of the way music, and the arts in general, are valued by our legislators who really dragged their feet in providing adequate supports for the industry,” Duignan says. “particularly the live-music sector. We’ve been so impressed by people like Shane Dunne and the EPIC group, as well as Angela Dorgan of FMC, who have lobbied tirelessly on behalf of artists, engineers, venue-staff, lighting technicians and the thousands of people who make live music happen in this country.”

“As music-lovers, the image of a poorly-ventilated, poky club filled with people, packed like sardines in a can, gathered to hear songs they love is unbelievably alluring. We can’t wait to get back to that as fans and performers.”

“Honestly, releasing these songs has been a lovely balm for the psychological wear and tear of the past six months. Our spirits have been buoyed by artists we love releasing work at a potentially limiting time for them in the context of income or career. It felt good to contribute to the oxygenating effect of sharing art in a tough time.”

Muscle Memory is a digital-only release, and is currently available via Bandcamp.

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