Havergal: Lungs for the Race
2001, Secretly Canadian
I came across Lungs for the Race by Havergal in the spring of 2001. I had run in from the rain to the radio station, and to skip a class or two yet again. Among the stacks of new albums sat Havergal. Curious if the name of the band was somehow a play on the words “have a girl” or an ode to the long-dead Christian poet of the same surname, I took it to the production studio for a listen. It was instant love. At the time, I was going through a minor Squarepusher phase, and the soft electronics combined with loops and dips of the drum machine, and the melodramatic crooning of lead singer (and pretty much the soul artist behind it all) Ryan Murphy, was exactly what I was looking for that very moment.
Lungs for the Race, the debut and first of only two full-lengths that Murphy released, is a brooding escapade into the soul of true poet; he’s a depressive at his best, and still a depressive at his worst. His lyrics are of unrequited longing, self-loathing (he does have a song on the album simply titled “I Hate”), and utter visibility of his own instability and vulnerability. Some of these songs literally bleed and reach a whole new level of raw punch-you-in-the-face honesty that you can’t help but double over in pain for the singer.
How can one not love the gritty sincerity in lines like: “A fat little fish that busts its gut/The rich kids who called her a slut/I wish your attention would be enough…” from the song “Rich Kids All Turn.” It’s like a backwash you want to drink, regurgitate and relish in all night. His somberness almost lulls you to sleep in the manner of an undaunted psych patient who knows he’s next up for the lobotomy… it’s pure perfection.
For a long time songs from Lungs for the Race were standbys whenever I made someone a mix CD, but sadly, no one seemed to get it; no one seemed to want to lay under such a dark cloud for even three minutes. Their loss, I say… and fuck ’em. I still force Havergal down anyone’s throat I can when I’m given the chance. Case in point…
As much as I would love to supply you with a video or song link, it’s just not happening… and if you can find one out there, let me know. However, I do know that you can still get the album, and I suggest you do… it really is that good.
By: Amanda Chatel