Currently opening for The Sisters of Mercy in Europe before the tour returns to the UK for its victory lap in November, The Virginmarys have bequeathed a new single, a year on from the run which made up The Devil Keeps Coming EP. Taken from the same pool of new material they unleashed two years ago, “Where Are You Now?” has become a staple of their shows since, blending aggression and fragility to show both sides of the band in one song.
At the time of its initial airing, it was rather apt as we all came out of the final lockdown, its lyrics pertaining to the wealth of emotions most, if not everyone, went through during that tumultuous period. There’s anguish, longing and a sense of isolation in its lyrics which carries through to Ally Dickaty’s vocal delivery. Bright yet sombre guitar tones on the intro are enough to raise goosebumps and once Danny Dolan’s marching drums join in with the chugging riff, they’ve managed to create a cloying, claustrophobic feeling, reminiscent of a (thankfully) bygone time.
As the chorus causes the song to explode into life, guttural roars from Ally power the chorus, desperation coating every word and are enough to be anxiety-inducing. Between that and the gargantuan thrashy guitar, Danny has his work cut out to match him. But he does so almost effortlessly, smashing his kit like he hates it and on that chorus, the duo make a sound akin to a warzone. But one that you want to listen to over and over again. There’s also a striking video to match “The Meds” and “You’re a Killer” which is full of references to both of those songs and “Devil Keeps Coming” and is set to coincide with the release of the single. It serves as an homage to Planes, Trains and Automobiles but as a word of warning, some people may find certain aspects unsettling.
For some this might be a hard listen if they get caught up in the lyrics and lose themselves in the soundscape. It’s the musical equivalent of your breath catching in your throat. Yet for others, there will be a sense of catharsis and release. Where both coalesce is at the end as the breakdown hits, the rapid-fire strikes from Danny increasing in speed, conveying the anxiety and frustration which bubbles over into a mixture of anger and acceptance, further showing the emotions of those eighteen months and how we now look back at it. The bright tones close out the track as if the stored energy has been spent for the time being; the release found.
Where it seemed like every band had to have a lockdown/isolation song in the thick of it, unsurprisingly, The Virginmarys have managed to best all of them. Giving the song some space allows for a fresh perspective on the matter, but it also means that it can be a song for those who simply feel (or are) alone. For a band that has always endeavoured to write about real subjects, this is one of their headiest and one that everyone can relate to in some fashion. Having to wait over a year for new recordings may not have been the band’s intention but this monster shows the wait was worth it.
Header image by Gabi Kowal