Album Reviews

For Those I Love – For Those I Love

(September) UK release date: 26 March 2021

For Those I Love - For Those I Love When For Those I Love’s David Balfe forged a friendship at secondary school with Paul Curran, it opened a new world to the music obsessed Dublin youth. He found someone who would go on to share the stage in three bands with him, including Burnt Out, the post hardcore band who would ignite the local punk scene from the basement.

The black and white videos shot by Balfe for the group’s two singles show the bored pair making merry havoc across the city, and you can hear Curran’s continued influence on this album’s numerous spoken word verses. This titular new album is not only testament to that enthusiastic appetite for an ever increasing spectrum of music, from emo and hip hop though to uplifting house, but acts as a moving eulogy to his friend, who passed away three years ago.

The songs first took shape as the men were finishing up their still unreleased first album. As an experimental aside to the fiery racket they were producing as Burnt Out, Balfe began making experimental electronica and proto rave anthems that he cautiously began sharing to much applause, on long drives in his trusty Renault Clio. Dedicated to the posse of mates who were helping him achieve artistic highs, inspiration came from the eerie urban jitters of Burial and the euphoric trance mix tapes they’d make for one another.

Things ground to a halt soon after when Curran, out of the blue, took his own life. It devastated Balfe, losing his friend of 14 years but living in such a notorious city, sadly it wasn’t the first friend’s passing. As he told Vice: “I don’t think there was a way to grow up in this Dublin and NOT be faced with the tragedy of suicide”. He spoke further of noticing bloodstains on the street as a six-year-old and seeing corrupt police guards attack citizens.

This being the first record Balfe has made solo, without his childhood conspirator, you can tell the processes of grief are ongoing. The rage, denial, shock and emptiness that follow a loved ones death are present on the albums newly rewritten lyrics. Speaking out loud the memories that linger on, these nine empowering songs, reinforced by Balfe’s snappish brogue, celebrate platonic intimacy and lash out against governmental failures.

Emotional first track I Have A Love, the album’s most triumphant moment, features snatches of the pair cajoling one another as Balfe regales a poetic tale of adolescent camaraderie and emotional survival in the Irish capital over a swelling beat. Welding the polemic furies of Kae Tempest to the bittersweet alcoholic reminisces of Arab Strap, Balfe recalls the time he first played the track to his departed buddy: “And I felt like I had it all / cause I have a love and it’ll never fail /and neither will you / Paul.” For the song Myth/I Don’t, a wrecked alienating rhythm emerges from the chopped up vocal treatments, shaping a tale of unachieved potential as Balfe admits he’s “walking around like a pissed madman by myself / wasting a low wage wealth / and myself” before angrily lamenting how Curran’s passing will not only haunt him forever, but be merely the most recent trauma he’s bound to endure.

Equipped with a suitably antagonistic funky big beat groove, the album’s secondary high point Birthday/The Pain has Balfe regaling his classmates with his discovery of the bloodstain, rapidly comprehending the harsh veneer he’ll need to fashion in order to make it out of his neighbourhood alive as he specifies “And I started to run from love / Cause you’re told / you need to grow cold / to grow old”. Anchoring the album with his own painful history and never admitting defeat, Balfe has scripted a exhilarating album that contends with unimaginable loss whilst warmly celebrating persistence.

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For Those I Love – For Those I Love