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Review: 'Coughlan, Cathal'
'Song of Co-Aklan'   

-  Label: 'Dimple Discs'
-  Genre: 'Indie' -  Release Date: '26th March 2021'

Our Rating:
It’s been a full decade since the critically-acclaimed Cathal Coughlan released any new music. Renowned for fronting Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions in the 80s and 90s (the latter having been touring partners of choice for U2, as well as being one of the definitive alternative bands of the time, all over the indie charts and the weekly inkies), the prolific Coughlan released five solo albums, as well as a handful of collaborative releases with Sean Hughes, as well as Luke Haines and Andrew Mueller.

He breaks this protracted silence with ‘Song of Co-Aklan’, a set of 12 new songs – a wide-ranging collection recorded in virtual collaboration with former members of his previous bands, specifically the ‘Grand Necropolitan Quartet’, with of Nick Allum (The Fatima Mansions, The Apartments), James Woodrow and Audrey Riley (notable collaborator of Lush, The Sundays, The Smiths, Nick Cave, The Cure and Coldplay). Sean O’Hagan (Microdisney, High Llamas, Stereolab), Luke Haines (The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder) and Rhodri Marsden (Scritti Politti) are also featured on the lengthy roll-call of contributors (which makes this less of a solo album and more of a Cathal Coughlan and friends release.

The clean, expansive, accessible title track contrasts with the dramatic theatrics and ragged vocal delivery on ‘Passed Out Dog’ and the brooding piano-led waltz of ‘Crow Mother’. ‘St Wellbeing Axe’ is an urgent, jittery slice of jagged post-punk – and it’s pretty tense stuff. Elsewhere, ‘Owl in the Parlour’ has proggy leanings and even hints of Mansun and ‘Let’s Flood the Fairground; is more Pulpy.. There’s a lot going on, so the fact it hangs together as an album is quite remarkable, really.

Across the album, Coughlan demonstrates a knack for a turn of phrase and a sharp hook, delivered in a Leonard Cohenesque gravelly growl. It not only has a quite distinctive charm, but showcases some quality songwriting: for all the time away, he’s clearly lost none of his knack.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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