- 26 Jul 19
Superb sixth solo record from ex-Miracle Legion frontman
As frontman with semi-legendary indie rockers Miracle Legion, Mark Mulcahy became a cult hero for a generation of musicians. Indeed, when the singer’s wife died suddenly in 2008, leaving him to raise their three-year-old twin daughters, a host of fellow songsmiths, including Michael Stipe, Thom Yorke, Frank Black and The National recorded versions of Mulcahy’s songs for a tribute album, Ciao My Shining Star, to help him to continue making music. This sixth solo album sees the singer inspired to “up his lyrical game” after reading a collection of short stories by George Saunders – with the result that many of these songs are mini-dramas of their own, in a similar manner to Springsteen’s literary sonic creations. Mulcahy has a knack for writing the kind of tunes that seep under your skin by a process of osmosis, until you find yourself humming them at the bus-stop weeks after you last listened to his album. The Gus is no different. You’ll likely be seduced by the joyous chorus of ‘Taking Baby Steps’, a song about letting a long-lost friend off the hook; the soaring harmonies of ‘Later For The Box’; the campfire singalong of ‘People: Beware’; and the disarmingly simple ‘A Long Time Ago’. ‘Wicked World’ is a beautiful duet with Rain Phoenix, sister of actor Joaquin, over a musical bed of Mulcahy’s gently chiming guitar, while Dinosaur Jnr’s J Mascis sprinkles slices of serrated guitar throughout the record. The piano-ballad ‘Mr Bell’ sees Mulcahy stepping into the shoes of Trump supporters: “Anyone with half a brain would envy your position/ You’ve got it all and they don’t even have a pot to piss in.” Like much of Mulcahy’s vast and impressive back catalogue, the understated majesty of The Gus isn’t immediately obvious. It’s as if Mulcahy refuses to come at you head-on, content to shuffle up from your blindside and gently knock you for six.