Cullen creates pleasant high energy three minute songs that all are viable commercial contenders for television and film placement, begging to be the soundtrack to troubled teens' lives.
Tim Cullen used to be frontman for the band SummerCamp (who had a brief hit with their song "Drawer"). That band ended in 2002 and now, a few years later, Cullen has released a solo effort entitled Fun Razor. The album contains 12 high-energy songs that are all around three minutes long, and all viable commercial contenders for television and film placement. Sure enough, some of these songs are already slated to appear on the WB network's Summerland and FOX's North Shore -- can a song or two on the O.C. be far behind?
Cullen has assembled a nice band to play his new songs. While Cullen provides vocals, guitar, synthesizer and assorted percussion, he is joined by former SummerCamp bandmates Misha Feldmann (bass) and Tony Sevener (drums), as well as Luke Tierney of The Penfifteen Club (vocals/guitar). The quartet manages to pump these songs out with a punk / pop vitality, and with west coast wunderkind Thom Flowers (Sugarcult, The Ataris) engineering, mixing and producing, these songs are in good hands. This is one slick and accomplished debut album.
Fun Razor starts out with the three-minute catchy pop of "Your World", a love song about a man who makes the personal sacrifice of traveling into another's world. "All" is another "I want you back" kind of song, propelled by harmonies and guitars, seeking explanations as to why she ran away the first time. "Halfway Home" is another serviceable entry, again about relationship issues (here he has unsuspectingly been drawn into a mess by a woman).
Two of my favorites come next. "On The Down" offers great harmonies and ringing guitar tones (very Brit-pop like), and a tale of more confusion:
"Take me to the dream where we are real, /
I could help you face the way you feel, /
On the down, / Have you had enough? /
On the down / Can't say which way is up."
"Fool" is about a hedonistic man out of control and on a roll, yet on the verge of making the wrong decisions:
"Partying is such sweet sorrow, /
Can't hardly wait to waste tomorrow, /
But right about now you seem to be /
Twelve steps ahead of me, (just go on and) /
Leave me, / You've got to believe me, /
I've got to be a fool to say goodbye."
"Good To Know" is a sweet song about reuniting friends. "How Long", a song questioning longevity in love and the music biz, distinguishes itself with a descending three-chord progression that breaks up the slow ballad tempo. "We Are History" turns heartbreak into a celebration (it's all perspective, folks), and "The Need" promotes anarchism with the line "break everything you see".
"Save The Day" is another sweet song of self-sacrifice (and features some nice guitar parts to boot). This guy's been waiting around to save the day -- and I hope he gets the chance and comes through admirably.
"Now It's Over" is an upbeat song about (guess what) relationship trouble. This one is told from the perspective of aftermath:
"So take your cheap shots, just spare me your deep thoughts, /
Now I don't need 'em, I'm not listening anymore, /
And nothing you could say would ever make this go away, /
So weep and read 'em, I don't like you like before."
"Valentine" closes the CD, and it actually is a sweet musical valentine inquiring about whether or not she'll "be mine".
Cullen has a good feel for this type of music (though some songs definitely are better than others), and he seems able to fit most songs in at three or four minutes, tops. The chemistry from the former band members works to their advantage: they play together as a tight unit.
Tim Cullen has essentially put together a new collection that's a variation of his past efforts with SummerCamp. These energetic songs follow the same basic formula, one that uses the commercial pop-rock progressions in slightly different ways. As such, Fun Razor suffers some from a lack of variety, particularly on the latter half of the record, yet fans of the earlier band will find plenty to like here.
It's a simple, fun sound, and producer Thom Flowers has done a nice job of capturing it on disc. I wish the lyrics were a little more challenging (there is more to life than failed relationships, even if you're only twenty-something), but perhaps that's just me. Overall, Fun Razor captures that polished commercial sound, and offers a good forum to display Cullen's vocal and guitar talents, as well as songwriting that begs to be the soundtrack for the lives of troubled teens.