Album #240: The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey

  • Released: 1985
  • Origin: Leeds, England
  • Label: Sin
  • Best Track: Hard to be Human Again

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard music like this before. The Mekons’ 1985 album Fear and Whiskey appeared on a list of great post-punk albums I saw, and I can understand why, but harmonicas and fiddles?

I wasn’t sure at first, but after a few listens, I love this album. Perhaps typically, it’s the most straight-up post-punk track (‘Hard to Be Human Again’ ) I like best, but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the more folky, Celtic influences that apparently make this record a pioneer of the alternative country genre.

The lyrics are bleak and poetic, especially on ‘Darkness and Doubt’, while the spoken word ‘Psycho Cupid’ is equally startling and unsettling. Have you ever heard a grimmer last line than “there’s got to be one breath after which there doesn’t come another”?

Genuinely different and ahead of its time, and perhaps an influence on today’s mainstream folk rock bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers.

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