You would think that having four songwriters in a band would be a recipe for tectonic artistic differences of Herculean proportions, but Mongoose have managed to avoid petty squabbles in favour of marrying their distinct styles in a harmonious blend. Indeed, their set-up is highly reminiscent of a jazz quartet imbued with elements of folk and indie. Comprising Molly O’Mahony, Ailbhe Dunne, Muireann Ní Cheannabháin and Cara Dunne, Mongoose formed in 2012 and have been a regular feature on the Irish festival circuit since the release of their debut album in 2015.
The latest single from this album is ‘Doing Things Wrong’. This song details the anger and frustration felt by those in support of repealing the 8th Amendment expressed by the distinct sense of urgency and anxiety in the fretful pace. The video begins with the four women making their way up a hill in a wooded area, at the summit, they encounter a suited man in a doctor’s mask who silently takes their passports and directs them further up the hill. This man will meet them several times throughout their journey taking their clothes, writing condemning messages on their hands, taking their shoes, gagging them, giving them heavy books to carry and finally blindfolding them before they reach the end of their journey.
The imaging of dressing in black is interesting. Is it mourners garb, prison uniform, or penitents’ rags? In any case, these travellers are being asked to surrender their individuality and journey onward with ‘a knot in my belly, a thunder in my chest’. The end of the video sees them running towards a gaunt and spectral ruin. There are repeated images of candles, bare feet (á la Croagh Patrick pilgrim) and prayer books which are a clear reference to the catholic interference with female health issues. It is a subtle but pointed nod to the caustic presence of the church surrounding this debate — the scent of an unseen thurible.
Abortion being the contentious issue that it is, coupled with the sure and definite opinions each individual holds regarding the ‘proper’ cases of when it should be allowed; it is inevitable that women enduring crisis pregnancies will be divided into ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ in the eyes of each individual. The rallying chorus of ‘I know I’m doing things wrong, but I don’t know how to do things right’, sung sonorously and desperately sums up the impossibility of having to satisfy the singular moral criteria of every person in a nation in order to gain access to a routine procedure available in nearly every other civilised country. This song and accompanying video, albeit a little on the nose at times, sums up the anger, frustration, and helplessness of those affected by the 8th Amendment, as well as the uphill climb if there is to any change.