‘Who Cares Anyway’ begins with Don’t Worry frontman Ronan Kehoe deciding to drunkenly walk home from a party early. He’s bitter, regretful and deprived of money, and concerned about the state of his life, and his hair. What follows over the next ten tracks is possibly based on the thoughts he had during that walk, or the product of a young adulthood of negative reflection. Either way, it’s a harrowing dose of catharsis and self-deprecation.
Kehoe’s personal anguish is the biggest recurring theme of ‘Who Cares Anyway?’, and the Southeastern drawl in his vocals accentuates that weariness of having to lumber through life with the world bearing its weight on him. “I’m conscious of how old I’m getting, and how much I don’t have my life together” he laments at the beginning of ‘Mood Swings & Roundabouts’, a thought many people have probably had while looking up old schoolmates on Facebook.
Delivered less with urgency, and more with a tone of hopeless resignation, one is left feeling pathos for Kehoe and the low self-worth and constant lack of finance that troubles him across these songs. Naturally, this melancholy works its way through Don’t Worry’s musicianship as well. Song structures often meander through drawn-out guitar melodies and isolated vocal melodies on tracks like ‘Yeah, Me’ and ‘Confetti’, which further emphasises the vulnerability Ronan is experiencing.
Listeners seeking punchier hooks might not take a shine to Don’t Worry’s downtrodden sensibility, but fans of early Manchester Orchestra and Frightened Rabbit records ought to admire the fearless humility that radiates through ‘Who Cares Anyway?’ The album reminds us that, in the darkest of times, all we can do is continue to search for a source of light. It’s amazing what a drunken walk alone can teach you about life.
‘Who Cares Anyway?’ by Don’t Worry is out now on Specialist Subject Records.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)