Music

Ian McCulloch: Slideling

Jason MacNeil

Ian Mcculloch

Slideling

Label: spinART
US Release Date: 2003-05-06
UK Release Date: 2003-04-28
Amazon
iTunes

After successfully returning to the gist of what Echo and the Bunnymen made so cool in the mid- to late-eighties, Ian McCulloch or "Mac" has returned to a solo album, his first since the rather messy Mysterio in 1992. While his other partner in EATB, guitarist Will Sergeant, makes ambient tunes in his solo Glide project, the lead singer is intent on making a better solo effort. "There may be no Will, but there's a lot of willpower," McCulloch quips in the press kit. With the help of Coldplay singer Chris Martin and Johnny Buckland, McCulloch has created a grand pop rock album that wastes no time revving its engine.

The introductory "Love in Veins" features a bouncy backbeat and just enough crunchy guitars that make it quite catchy. And unlike some tracks McCulloch has done, the chorus is as strong as the verses. Lead guitarist Pete Bryne weaves a simple yet elegant magic for the bridge and solo, leaving enough space for McCulloch to pick up where he left off. Moving things down a notch or two with "Playgrounds and City Parks", McCulloch relives his early childhood while Ceri James plunks the piano. "You never win and you can't beat what's broken", he sings in his trademark style, sounding as fresh as he did two decades ago. There's a certain soulful feeling to the song as well, whether it's the bass line or the backing harmonies kept in the distance. Another asset McCulloch keeps it simple, knowing when to cut the fat from a song, resulting in few if any lengthy fading moments.

"Sliding" is another strong tune that features the Coldplay duo in fine form. Although it might not be the epic one anticipates given the combination, the simplicity and Beatles feeling (coming from the constant "la la la la la la" or the give and take harmonies concluding the tune) makes it a quick favorite. "Baby Hold On" has a distinctive Lou Reed or Velvet Underground bass line winding throughout as McCulloch repeats the title. The soul quotient is also held high here as it contains the "slow dance at the prom" swoon feeling without the waltz-like arrangement. The flow of the song is another asset, making the near four minutes seem like basically no time at all. "Arthur" is a mid-tempo track that is dreamy to a possible fault. "Live and die with me / What I wouldn't give now", he sings as Martin chips in with adorable harmonies.

The heart of the album lies in "Seasons", a song you don't want to end so you keep hitting replay just before it concludes. Not too highbrow but not exactly appealing to the current buying demographics, the song has a slight Beatles "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" quality to it before Bryne adds some basic riffs on top. If there's one flaw to the song, it might be the lack of some editing, allowing the "do do do do"s to go on just a tad too long. "Another Train" is probably the one curveball on the record. Coming off a bit like Travis or Cast, the song isn't as biting as it could be as it changes gears often. The lightweight feeling oozing from it makes the structure seem a bit odd throughout. Thankfully, the murky and dirty "High Wires" or "Some Kinda Love" (depending on what track listing you look at), is another catchy head-bobbing number with McCulloch doing his best impression of Britney Spears and her heavy panting during "Slave for You". The handclaps only add to the "good times" aspect of it.

"She Sings (All My Life)" returns to a similar sound but the overall vibe can't be denied. Working against his own harmony, McCulloch sounds as if he has saved the good stuff and left the Bunnymen with leftovers. The lyrics aren't the deepest, but if it ain't broke don't fix it. "Stake Your Claim" concludes the dazzling record with a glorious return to what made Mac so damn cool in the first place. It's his best solo record. Okay, he's only had three, but this is classic McCulloch in a contemporary model.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image