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Michael Cullen - True Believer (Self-Released)

16 November 2014

Sydney, Australia’s Michael Cullen is back with his new solo album, True Believer. A post-punk veteran since the 80’s, True Believer finds Cullen growing and channeling more of Nick Cave and poets like Leonard Cohen than the moody atmosphere of influences Joy Division and its singer Ian Curtis found on Cullen’s first album, Love Transimitter. Cullen also sounds like he’s truly come into his own here, retaining influences but finding a unique voice for himself in the process, and the fuller and more polished production only bolsters this even more while enough of his earlier gothic broodiness remains intact for any fans of his previous work.

With a little adjustment to style, many of the songs here would have easily found a home amongst 80’s jangle pop like The Go-Betweens and late-era Orange Juice. In fact, although they are two very different songs, Cullen’s “Believer” channel much of the same Northern Soul influences as Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You,” only forgoing Collins cheery disposition. Other songs like “Damaged” seem more like poems with songs and stark instrumentation built around them, much in a similar fashion to Cohen. True Believer is a much stronger work with a focus and a conciseness more solidified than on its predecessor, and will undoubtedly become one of the sleeper hits of the year.