AOTY 2021
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‘For Those I Love’ is not only an immaculate debut, but a beautiful record that speaks to anyone who’s ever loved and lost, anyone who might be mourning or just processing the days of youthful abandon, or perhaps those who need reminding that you can’t have shadows without the light.


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.

The Independent

For Those I Love is as much a piece of history as it is a work of art ... A staggering album.

Evening Standard

David Balfe melds lively, often beautiful dance music and starkly personal spoken word on this powerful record.

The Irish Times

Balfe throws himself into these songs wholeheartedly, teeth gritted as he runs the gamut of anger, pain, nostalgia and sadness. As a result, he has made not only a powerful record but a potentially important one.


Balfe’s wounded outpourings are all too seldom heard from male voices across society, and for that reason, this is an album that will rightly be remembered for years to come.

The Forty-Five

Balfe couldn’t have expected that his album would land in a year where all too many people around the world are trying to pick themselves up after unexpected loss, but it’s a record of great solidarity, proving that memory is so much more than headstones and regrets over things that weren’t said.

Loud and Quiet

Each track is unique and there’s not a bad song here. Conversations between mates, exclamations about the demise of punk and unique beats wind themselves around the listener’s mind until it is completely claimed, fertile ground for an outpouring of pain and love and the unfairness and bittersweetness of history


It’s a story of survival, a project remarkable in its completeness. ‘For Those I Love’ is a truly exquisite achievement in which the redemptive hope that love and friendship provide is never allowed to sink beneath the waters.


Like Dublin's answer to Mike Skinner or Burial, Dave Balfe relentlessly intones stories and reflections of urban life against akaleidoscopic and sometimes claustrophobic electro background, speckled with found sounds and home recordings.


Haunted and intimate, Balfe’s deep brogue ultimately salvages hope from the wreckage.

The Line of Best Fit

His creation of such an overt sense of nostalgia, grief, loss and mourning, whilst also making time to make statements on social justice issues is impressive.

The Guardian

A eulogy for a dead friend, David Balfe’s stirring debut combines lyrics on class, death and despair with clubland highs and hope.

Crack Magazine

Grief is a fickle monster, and on For Those I Love, Balfe captures the beast with a visceral clarity.


Anchoring the album with his own painful history and never admitting defeat, Balfe has scripted a exhilarating album that contends with unimaginable loss whilst warmly celebrating persistence.

This website confuses me
I can't like "spoken word" albums, it sucks and EVERYBODY knows it.

"But what about the things he says? The lyrics are beautiful."

If I want to hear a man talking, I listen to a podcast or see a speech from the president. And if I want to see a guy talking on top of a song, I go to an appliance store, or to the market, where there is always someone talking about promotions over a song that is playing.

Just because the guy doesn't have a beautiful voice to sing and so he ... read more

The essence of this album might be commendable, but the substance is pretty underwhelming (it’s nothing more than average melodic house beats with narrative vocals à la Highly Sedated [except, done badly]). Is this a likeable album? Could be for some people. Is this AOTY material? Nowhere near it.

I can see why some would like this, it’s more narration than it is "music" in the end; in this album, the melodies and music only serve to support and cushion the ... read more
There has been a lot of great music coming out of Dublin over the last few years, but I’m going to be honest...this record caught me completely by surprise. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but by the end of it, I was both in tears and smiling ear to ear at the same time.

The beauty of “For Those I Love” lies not in the hypnotic dance grooves and layered electronic textures of the record, but in the somber, poignant and heartfelt lyricism that David Balfe recites ... read more
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Year End Lists

#13/Rough Trade (UK)
#37/Slant Magazine
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Added on: January 13, 2021