By Stephen Dunegan
If Morrisey and Buck 65's Richard Terfry shared a relative, I'm convinced that it would be Michael P. Cullen. This Sydney-native recently released True Believer and, although I gave it numerous full listens, I feel sonically disappointed.
Most of the time when it comes to music of any genre, I'm lyrically-driven. I can overlook sub-par musicianship and even production if the lyrics grasp me. I just couldn't get there with this album and even when I thought I'd really enjoy tracks such as "Black Coffee and Cigarettes" (because maybe I like black coffee and maybe I like cigarettes), I just felt left down.
His voice could really do damage if provided potent lyrics and musical backing. I normally gravitate towards the gravely and the raw, but with elementary lyrics in most of these songs, which make the lyrics seem filler, it takes away from what this album could be. "Damaged" is one where the opening lyrics just turned me off: "Like dark chocolate, like a dead cigarette // Like a lifetime of regret, you're bitter // I wish we never spoke // I wish you never told me that little joke". As you may imagine, it took everything within me to continue with this down-tempo track and, unfortunately, I didn't feel the album got much better.
As much as I wish I could relay a positive review to this album, I just can't pinpoint a moment, aside from his voice, in this album where I was enthralled or even intrigued. It felt like a third date when you don't want to ask anymore probing questions and the other person hasn't asked ANY questions thus far so you just sit there in awkward silence until the appropriate time has been allotted but the other individual still somehow thinks the date went well and ask when the fourth will be.
I hate to break it to you, Michael P. Cullen, I don't think there will be a fourth date. It's not you. It's me. Well, it could be you.