Label: September Recordings
Released: 26th March 2021
This debut from For Those I Love, the project from Dublin producer and songwriter David Balfe, is so good that we are gonna need a whole new barrel of superlatives before anyone could even begin to describe it properly. A record that burns brightly with the flame of grief over the death of his best friend and the love that remains, it is fuelled by a mix of heady nostalgia of times past and quiet anger at the environments that may have caused it. With a pain at times so real that it can almost be touched, its smartest trick is turning it into something approaching euphoria with its mix of poetry and exhilarating dance beats.
As much a celebration of friendship as it is a eulogy to the departed, snippets of WhatsApp conversations drift in alongside samples that have been deployed with a precision aim to build into the night-time-driving-with-mates vibes of Jamie xx or The Streets, using that same ability of Skinner to pick up on the tiny details of human life. Whether it is the recollection of teenage scrapes, recounting those tales that get told around pub tables for all time, or railing at injustices and admitting the raw pain of his grief, every aspect of local life is explored. “Write your hate and pain away, to make tomorrow better than today,” he says at one point, and you feel every inch of that as he works through a complicated, tangled mess of emotions.
Mourning, and moving on from, the loss of a loved one is never a straight-forward process and this record is no different. But during the cycles of sadness, anger and fond memories, Balfe returns repeatedly to a statement that his love never fades. And by the album’s close, that message begins to feel one filled with life-affirming intent as much as it is a promise to remember. In a time where we’ve never needed it more, this is a vital and poignant reminder to keep your friends and family close and pick up that phone.