Back in 2002, Michael Cullen, former front man of The Hardheads and Watershed, released his debut solo album. Ten years on the album has been remaster and re-released in a shiny new digi-pack.This is good news as the album was easily one of the most underrated to have arrived in the noughties. The mix of dense sounds, beautiful melodies and sharp witted words made for an absolutely sensational long player. The re-release of the album allows those that missed it first time round a second chance to discover its beauty.
On this release there are lots of little tweaks to the sound here and there to give the music a little more atmosphere. At the same time the passion and emotion that was exerted in the previous version is still here in its dark and gloomy glory!
This record was something of a departure from the loud and roaring sounds of the former garage rock bands. As his press release put it, the album is a “red wine soaked magic pudding of a record, consisting of equal parts dark beautiful melody, seamless ensemble musicianship and velvet voiced seduction!” What wasn’t lacking however was the raw passion and emotion that allows his previous bands to charge ahead. This time round, however, it was displayed in a more subdues fashion.
The album opens with the slow moody sounds of Do you believe. There chilling vibes flow through in a subtle but intense way to create a dark atmospheric sound scape.
Tidal Wave is a ballad that gradually becomes chaotic. There are some sharp lyrics, the best example being the opening line “love is an ocean, why don’t you get wet”.
All used up is a very dark and gloomy tune looking at despair and what could have been. Mr Cullen uses some interesting effects on his vocals to create a chilling echo sound. Overall this is a brilliant piece of work that consists of dense sounds and beautiful melodies.
Transmission is the major highlight to the album! The fast energetic vibe paired with the deep dark atmospheric undertones create a chaotic vibe that is contained within some beautifully crafted tunes. The music alone creates vivid imagery while the cleverly crafted lyrics add the story in.
Chinese Hammer sounds like a darker version of Frank Sinatra. The mix of Joy Division-esq drums and wailing organs produces a massive unnerving atmosphere.
Professional entertainers is a faster almost poppy offering. However any ounce of upbeat poppiness in the music is more than offset by the deep dark and dryly witty lyrics.
One is still my number sounds like post punk crossed with rhythm and blues, the end result is both unique and infectious. This is led my a solid vocal style that pushes out some bitter emotion. To top it off the lyrics in this piece are sharply delivered with some cleverly crafted metaphors.
Closer is a slower tune acting as a kind of warm down to the intense energy that was experienced over the previous 9 tracks.
This is an absolutely brilliant album! All songs on offer manage to be self contained as well as fit together with one another to create a smooth flowing long player. If you somehow missed it first time round here is a great chance to discover one of the great Australian albums of the last decade!
Listen to songs from the album below. Check out Michael’s website to find out more!