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Mike Marlin – Nearly Man

February 8, 2011 by  

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Mike Marlin – Nearly Man

NAME: Mike Marlin
ALBUM: Nearly Man
DATE: 14February2011

LABEL: AMP Music

RATING: 5/5

FIVE WORD REVIEW: Excellent debut from delayed star.

LOCATION: London, England

LINE UP: Mike Marlin (vocals)

Mike Marlin - Nearly Man.jpg

WHAT’S THE STORY?: Last month, Mike Marlin released his debut single ‘Play That Game’, a stunning effort that set the bar high for this album. The notably issue was the song’s juxtaposition with a live performance of ‘Hit the Button’, something altogether more stomp-worthy but utterly different from the lead track.

Opening Nearly Man with the latter track, Marlin gets off on a remarkably strong foot with the studio outing of ‘Hit the Button’, losing no passion set up in the live version but using a nice, crisp guitar to open your eyes as well as your ears.

Still, it’s a bit of a rollercoaster from there. ‘Play That Game’ still stands proud at the halfway point of the release, but in between that and the start, it’s ups and downs. ‘Not Perfect’ is exactly that, perhaps because it feels more like an album closer than anything else; its introspective lyrics are great and all, but it pulls the rug out from you after such an uplifting beginning. Maybe it’s to make a point about variety; luckily, it has the passionate lyrics you come to expect from Marlin.

‘In the Basement’ has the same Divine Comedy aesthetic as was paralleled in the single review, though it again misses the “comedy” aspect of his counterparts. That isn’t a bad thing – it’s familiar yet unique enough to avoid any more comparisons being drawn to other artists. A defined, powerful chorus works well with the plethora of instruments that all seem to intricately fit around one another, particularly the brass section.

‘Second Son’ then does a ‘Not Perfect’ by slowing things down once more. It’s annoying because it’s a well-meaning and loving tune but seems to be placed like a square peg in a round hole; maybe it’s used as a set-up for ‘Play That Game’. Who knows?

Best of the rest is ‘Home Town’, another speedy, guitar-heavy offering that uses what sounds like a Stylophone. Seriously, it’s the Stylophone that makes it. That and the band cohesion, of course; Marlin’s surrounded by very talented geniuses.

‘Nearly Man’ is like a happy version of ‘Susan’s House’ by Eels, but doesn’t feel right as the finishing track. Luckily, the excellent English accent tells a funny story, so it’s not all terrible. It also means “fuck” is the last word on the album, which is a first.

Perhaps one of the drawbacks is that he doesn’t include anything from the ‘Stayin’ Alive’ Bee Gees cover single, including the cute-yet-ultimately-miserable accompaniment ‘Give It All’, which uses toy piano quite beautifully. Still, all four tracks from The Basement LP (including ‘Second Son’, ‘Home Town’ and, unsurprisingly, ‘Nearly Man’) all made the grade, so it’s not all bad.

Marlin’s a man that clearly wants to continue moving forward, firm in the knowledge that his past is behind him. “My biggest disadvantage is that I don’t have a catalogue of hits from back in the day,” he emphasises. “But that’s also a disadvantage. I would love to have a musical past but I would hate to live in it.”

You can’t say fairer than that, especially given Nearly Man is such a strong release; you’ll be comfortable knowing he’s going to build on these foundations, not rehash old content that he himself admits wasn’t particularly “musical”.

If only Marlin put a little more time into the order of the songs on the album, it could’ve entered another level of excellence. Sadly, you’ll instead have to put up with it just being great; it gets a 5/5, though it’s more of a 9/10 or an 18/20. It’s all about compromise with the scoring, or at least rounding up.

SOUNDS LIKE: A man clearly happy that he’s finally got his breakthrough, celebrating in style.

YOU’LL LIKE THIS IF: You want to be one of the first people to see the birth of a star without a telescope.

LINK: http://www.mikemarlin.co.uk


Submitted By Matt Gardner


 

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