It's been about 15 years since I last saw Stoat playing live. After a lengthy hiatus, and over a decade since their debut album, Future Come And Get Me, the follow-up is released today. Located down a dark and foreboding, rubbish strewn alleyway, Dublin’s newest music venue, the appropriately named Underground, is rammed tight with fans old and new. It's a long, narrow, airless room that exists in its own microclimate; 25 degrees warmer than the February weather outside. In other words, it's exactly the type of venue that would have existed 15 years ago.
Stoat's tall tales and witty lyrics, accompanied by sophisticated mathpunk instrumentation was an inspiration to a generation of underground bands. At a time when guitar music is incredibly unfashionable, Try Not To Think About It is exactly what Irish music needs right now. They introduce themselves with a keyboard and soprano saxophone instrumental before hitting the ground with an oldie in the shape of nonsense poem ‘Acunamanacana’. The kick pedal breaks during comeback single ‘Talk Radio Makes Me Feel Alone’ but is swiftly replaced and take-two passes without a hitch. The intertwining riffs and vocals sound more grungy and scabrous live.
Album opener, ‘Trampolina’, has the room singing along like The Saw Doctors doing a song written for them by Jarvis Cocker. The swagger of ‘Don't Play No Game That I Can Win’ is offset by the punk pathetique of ‘Oh Happy Day’ while ‘Try Not To Think About It’ encapsulates the creeping dread, ennui and rationalisations of midlife. Current single ‘Dog King’ closes the main set with a gypsy punk stomp. It's the quickest hour of 2018 so far and despite vociferous demands, and in proper punk style, the band decline an encore. Welcome back, Stoat, you have been missed.