If you took James (of “Laid” fame), mixed him with Robert Smith and added a dash of Ian Curtis, you’d have Michael Cullen. Easily the darkest artist I’ve gotten to review yet, Cullen’s tunes are loaded with melancholy and dripping with loss. Oddly enough, there are underpinnings of hope, too, but those notes seem lost amid the darkness of the tracks themselves.
“Do You Believe?” reminds me of something that would’ve blasted from friends of mine’s cars as they drove around in the late 90’s. It’s not an ugly track, it’s just very dreary. Cullen is like Akira Yamaoka in that way, his music is beautifully complicated, filled with sound and wholly original while also being loaded with incredibly dark imagery and concepts.
I’d be hard-pressed to put a finger on just what kind of music Cullen is, other than that I dig it. Maybe it falls under the genre of “Rob Likes It.” As I’m a huge Joy Division, Yamaoka and James fan, I’m predisposed to like Cullen. He’s on Spotify if you wanna’ give him a listen. I’m following him and looking forward to more of his work, as I think it strikes a sweet yet sad chord at the same time.
“Chinese Hammer” has some serious Poets of the Fall vibes going for it, which is a very good thing. The song sounds like something out of Twin Peaks or the video game Alan Wake, again, very good things. Cullen really has a handle on whatever you wanna’ call his particular brand of songwriting. It isn’t fair to call it “dark,” per se, it’s more accurate to call it original, I guess. Love Transmitter is such a fascinating album, overall.
"Michael Cullen - "Love Transmitter"" is on sale August 1, 2012 from Speartackle Records.