Superman EP (Warner/Blue)
8 March 1995
Pretty much like Something Happens just as it seems their music industry career has taken a backwards step, An Emotional Fish have begun to make the best musicof their lives. The Superman EP features the reflective and melancholic but graceful Superman and the caustic Happy Families, which takes a cutting glance at suburban bourgeois city life. Theres also a nod to Irish rock history in the covers of Phil Lynnots Dublin and Frankie Carrol.
by Patrick Brennan - Hot Press Magazine.
30 November 1994
AN EMOTIONAL Fish have not turned into a country
n western band.
Despite the mainly acoustic, Nashville-friendly feel of Sloper, the bands third album, Gerard Whelan & Co. have not sold their souls to the world of lost loves, twanging guitars and pick-up trucks. This much was obvious two songs in, when the Fish launched into a blistering version of Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, from the Junk Puppets album. Similarly, Grey Matter, culled from their eponymous debut, glowed with the bands regained passion for pop brilliance.
The material from Sloper had a harder edge than on the album, without delving into distortion. Disco Vera was a hugely enjoyable departure from the usual fare, while Dirt and Air were vintage Fish.
They played my two favourite Fish songs, Rain and Lace Virginia, the first a wall of guitar upon which Gerard Whelan clambers with easy abandon, the latter a howl of raw emotion with enough melody to make it all worthwhile. In fact, the usual array of singles was displayed, the notable exception being Blue, while Hole In My Heaven was its usual boiling-over brilliance. The latest release, Time Is On The Wall took on an extra dimension live and is already proving to be a favourite with the bands fanbase.
Ger Whelan displayed a happier side than on the Junk Puppets tour, smiling as if he meant it, even though his leering grin was still very much in evidence. Whelan is one of Irelands most electrifying front-men, without even opening his mouth. His physical presence is enough to unnerve even the larger male members of the audience, as he careens around like a charismatic Jim Morrison.
Tonight, Ger was superb. When the stage was invaded by a horde of kids for about four songs, he smiled and let them enjoy their fifteen minutes. They leapt about making me worry about the safety of the drum kit for Celebrate, and they sang and smiled their way through the other songs, with Ger playing the artful dodger, leading them in a rousing rendition of Happy Families. He looked like the pop star we all know he should be. When the stage got too crowded he wandered among the audience, singing all the while, and creating the friendliest atmosphere I have felt at a gig in some while.
Every time I see An Emotional Fish live, they remind me why I fell in love with them back at Seven Bands On The Up in 1989. The power, the energy, the melody and the pop. This is how it should be.
by John Walshe - Hot Press Magazine.
Aeroplanes (Warner Music)
30 November 1994
Oh god . . . I know that Im not being very politically correct by not endorsing the indigenous product, but Planet Fabulous either takes a hell of a long time to grow on you, or my first instincts were correct and its just downright boring. I know theyre capable of much better, so at least the next single should be a vast improvement. As for Aeroplanes, its almost a country n western ballad with all that slide guitar. Its pleasant to listen to. Like, your grandmother would say. Its a lovely little tune yknow?! Maria Doyle-Kennedys soft background harmonies complement the song gorgeously but guys, I think the Beautiful South got there first.
by Sinead Hughes - Hot Press Magazine
Sloper (Blue Music)
02 November 1994
The Fish have suffered for their art, taking the brunt of the slings and arrows of outrageous critics for initially signing to the wrong Irish record label and for being somewhat careless in choosing the wrong music industry connections. If this offering had been their debut album and on their own label things might have been oh so different. In that respect, Sloper, in reality their third album but their first for the new Blue label, is just like starting over, a low-budget high-octane affair that might finally convince some entrenched doubters why there was such a buzz in the first place.
Perhaps its the absence of the corporate millstone, but whatever the reason, Sloper brings you a re-energised, reborn band. The absence of self-serving producers and their budget-devouring, gratuitous production antics allows for some welcome natural space. Given room to manoeuvre the bands overall performance, particularly Gerard Whelans vocals, reflects an outfit at last relaxed and at ease with their craft and sometimes sullen art.
The Bowiesque Time Is On The Wall is
already familiar to Irish radio listeners but its only a mere whiff of what follows.
Along the way you will be treated to some shimmering harmony vocals from ex-Black Velvet
Band Maria Doyle on Summertime and the Gram Parsons-like
Aeroplanes, some spine-tinglingly delicious country-tinged guitars, including
Joe Ryans pedal steel, and overall a more acoustic perspective from a band whose
abilities were too often submerged under a blanket of studio-induced fury which too often
signified too little. Gone, almost entirely, are the somewhat irritating and
self-important Whelan poses of yore and instead you get a gentler, more romantic visionary
with his head in the clouds but his feet firmly welded to planet Earth.
Thrill to the seductive chord sequence and searing lead line of Summertime, or the country folk rock of Clowns with its crisp Hank Marvin guitars and you begin to ask yourself where has this incarnation of the band been hiding all these years. The sturdy simplicity of Dirt, despite its debt to the Velvet Underground, slips under your guard to insinuate itself inside your skull where it nags away at you day and night. Other Planet Girl blends some soft Sowetan-style guitars with a nifty melody, a lyrical paean to a somewhat spaced out woman and an arrangement that reveals more and more on repeated plays.
Leoncavallo is a sharp sprint with its fast and furious guitars drowning vocals which are too blurred for you to distinguish whether the track has any connection with the 19th century classical composer of that name, but it crosses the finishing line long before you get too concerned about it. It Belongs To The World lopes along quite innocently before exploding right in your face with all the grace and charm of a letter-bomb.
Disco Vera rocks out with the best of them and is one of those rare instances of a rock band creating a decent slab of dancefloor fodder, but nearly all of the songs sound intriguing enough to have merited the inclusion of lyrics and some more readable sleeve credits.
Of course its not all perfect. An Emotional Fish have always worn their influences on their musical sleeves, and like choosy kleptomaniacs they only steal from the very best. The raggle-tagglery of Happy Families owes too much to Lloyd Cole and its kiddies chorus detracts from what could have been a convincing social cameo. The spoken intro to Mistake Factory provokes the observation that not many Irish people actually talk like that, but fortunately the guile of the song works its spell long before the squall of guitars at the end awards a points decision in favour of the band.
Whelans vocal style often walks a tightrope
so dangerously close to Lou Reed and/or Lloyd Cole that you almost find yourself checking
for the safety net, as on the slight Air, for example, but his new-found
conviction generally compensates and in no time the songs have become as familiar as the
members of your own family.
Its not always sensible, or fair, to link song lyrics to real life, but the pleading, apologetic and confessional Superman, whose protagonist desperately wants to be more than he feels he is perceived to be, could be the motto for the entire album.
Sloper might just be the ideal soundtrack for the
post-slacker generation. An Emotional Fishs future starts here?
Rating: 10 / 12
by Jackie Hayden - Hot Press Magazine.
Time Is On The Wall (Warner)
05 October 1994
Some songs should stay acoustic, and this offerings a prime example. Its a well-worded eulogy to the loved one whose letters, spelling mistakes, shape and touch, as well as weakness for all things freakish etc. have inspired a slow, moving ballad that sets the heart a-tremble. But in the electric version, plaintive upper melodies on the fiddle get replaced by rather harsh, clumsy guitar breaks which also break the mood, and the shimmering tambourine gets ditched too. The result is a loss of poignancy.
by Joanna Keegan - Hot Press Magazine.
Hole In My Heaven (Atlantic)
17 November 1993
My expectations of this latest salvo from the Hothouse Flowers could not have been any more wildly inaccurate. Instead of the boring, pedantic Liam OMaonlai dominating they deliver a really soulful heartfelt song which, at times, oozes with style and is reminiscent of Willie de Ville at his sultry sexual peak. Fortunately I was bang on in relation to An Emotional Fish. Its a rough, tough song, boasting powerful guitars, solid rhythms and near howling vocals. It is these qualities that are making the Fish a great deal more enduring than was predicted by many.
by Duan Stokes - Hot Press Magazine
Junk Pupptes (Atlantic)
Junk Puppets is full of spit, sass, and melodies - at times An Emotional Fish sound like U2's black-sheep cousin; at others, the tracks are chock full of wonderful, cavity-inducing glam rock strokes - "Careless Child" being the perfect tribute to the legacy of Marc Bolan and T Rex. Like the Junk Puppets of the title, An Emotional Fish scrounge bits of epic pop, psychedelia, funk, and electro-dance and scatter them on the display shelf in a prize fusion of guitars and technology, modern swagger and respectful acknowledgement.
by Roch Parisien -
Vasco Rossi has transformed
"Celebrate" into the title song of his last record, "Gli
Spari Sopra". Celebrate was the song opening their first LP called
An Emotional Fish, released from WEA in Europe and from Atlantic in the
United States in 1990.
Their self titled debut album has established them as one of the most powerful and passionate musical outfits, and caused a great sensation also overseas. Paul Evans of the Rolling Stone magazine wrote: A poetic fervour and stupendous sound inspires the celtic spirits of these four musicians. There are allusions to that disillusion Lou Reed has transformed into arts in the lyrics of their songs, and the assertive bass played by Enda Wyatt remembers the big underground band from Athens, Georgia, The Pylon. Gerard Whelan is a passionate singer both when he whispers and sings rock; there are all the topics - loneliness, rage, simpathy, identity crises. All their songs are intense and provocative.
Junk Puppets is not so far from their previous album, and the comparison with The Pylon (thickened by the strong irish presence of Bono and U2) is surely appropriate.
Whelans voice is evocative and inspired (Bono, Jim Kerr, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop): "They stood in the rain | And said that they didn't care | Said they were almost there | And that they were not alone | We are careless souls | Following a careless moon | We sing a careless song | Hung on a careless tune" (Careless Child).
The Lou Redd influence (with or without Velvet) is evident in the intro of "If God Was a Girl" as for the beautiful "Careless Child", but the heavy hand of psychedelic and expressionist rock is everywhere, which impressed a deep sign on An Emotional Fish.
Whelan is an excellent singer, and very well supported by the spoken guitar of David Frew and the rolling drums of Maritn Murphy, as proved by "Hole in my Heaven" and the exciting "Rain" which takes the place that "Celebrate" had in the previous record.
Rating: 8 / 10
by Peppe Videtti -
Rock Star July/August 1993
The "creative top" of the An Emotional Fish, Junk Puppets, caused them the loss of their major contract. Strange but it's what happened. After a debut album containing "Celebrate", also performed as cover by Vasco, in this work AEF mixed at one go pop, rock and electronics, advancing british music times. But only few realized, and didn't care about U2's call, which wanted them as support band of Zooropa World Tour. Electric ballads, songs with guitars in pop styles, important tours. Who knows what didn't work for AEF...~ Taken from "40 smeraldi preziosi" .Junk Puppets has been judged 28th on a list of the 40 best irish albums.
by Rock Star July 1998
An Emotional Fish Album (Atlantic)
When one mentions Ireland and rock musician in the same sentence, it is usually to describe such rock acts as U2 and Sinead O'Connor. However, a new band has emerged from the Emerald Isle.
An Emotional Fish is perhaps the next super band to pop out of Ireland's treasure chest of rock.
With their recently released self-titled album, Ireland's newest rock band has attracted much attention worldwide. The distinguishing characteristic of An Emotional Fish is their ability to mesh deep, meaningful lyrics with a catchy rock sound which borders on the psychedelic style prevalent in Europe today. Instead of doing traditional love songs (boy meets girl, boy falls in love, relationship falls apart), An Emotional Fish disguises the songs to the point where an inattentive ear would not be able to pick up on the major theme.
A case in point is the single "Celebrate." Though on one level, a listener hears "Celebrate, this party's over, I'm going home," on another level, one realizes the lyrics allude to the pangs of painful love, and the relief felt after the hurtful relationship reaches a conclusion.
All of the songs on this album can be interpreted on one of many levels which adds to the depth of the album. Love is just one of the many emotions and ideas that are sung about through this eleven-track audio bonanza. The environment, the innocence of youth, pure beauty, and even greed are other topics for such songs as "Grey Matter," "Blue," "Lace Virginia," and "All I Am." It would be deceitful to suggest that every song on the album is a gem. However, an overwhelming majority of the songs are quite appealing.
Some critics have suggested that An Emotional Fish is well on the road to becoming the next U2. Their varied song topics are a pleasant deviation from the usual non-stick wallpaper music lyrics heard in most popular songs today. With a unique style, and amazing song-writing skills, An Emotional Fish is certain to please even the most demanding rock fan. Are they truly the next U2? Gerard Whelan, Enda Wyatt, David Frew, and Martin Murphy are certainly a group of exceedingly talented musicians, and only time will tell if they can be propelled to the elevated plane of rock superstardom.
by Arup D., Winchester, MA