REVIEW: Michael Cullen – ‘Love Transmitter’

michael cullen

Artist: Michael Cullen
Album: Love Transmitter
Genre: Synth Pop, New Wave

“For awhile, putting one foot in front of the other was all I could manage.”

Michael Cullen‘s Love Transmitter is the result of a marriage in shambles, the subsequent near-nervous breakdown, and a much-warranted depression; 35 minutes spanning 10 melancholic tracks of gothic new wave and moody indie rock. This is a newly released remaster yet even with an updated production it still sounds just as sad.

Almost anyone can relate to the material found on Love Transmitter. It’s one of those albums you lock yourself in your room and reflect with.

“What did I do wrong?”

“Should I have done something differently?”

We’ve all asked ourselves these questions at some point or another, and more often than not, those questions are in regards to a relationship gone awry. Cullen decided to take those questions and emotions and weave them into a creative vehicle. In a recent interview with Cullen, he explained to us, “Life is the grist of the artist’s mill – it can’t really be any other way and the artist’s own life makes for the most authentic source material.”

Seeming to also draw influence from fellow Australian, Nick Cave, ofttimes, Cullen will drop his voice to a far lower register, evident on tracks like “Tidal Wave” and “Spill.” This, in the whole of the album, can feel somewhat hokey at times but for the most part is forgotten once his normal vocals come back into play, which work far better with the tones and moods on most tracks. Despite its simplistic lyrics, “Tidal Wave” is one the album’s strongest offerings musically.

However, the deeper vocals work on “Hey Sister,” which is another stand-out on Love Transmitter. Serving as a mid-tempo gloom, “Hey Sister” is straight-forward on all accounts but it doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t and that’s commendable. Cullen doesn’t reach beyond what he knows and that’s part of what makes this album such an honest effort, apart from being directly influenced by his personal woes.

As depressing as it is, Love Transmitter‘s themes and tones are fantastic. It spans many areas of rock and feels straight out of the late ’80s post-punk scene. “Professional Entertainers” is a great example of this, reminiscent of Joy Division and Echo And The Bunnymen, but that could be said for a large portion of this album.

Love Transmitter has been out for quite awhile now and I’m sure things have been looking up in Cullen’s life since, so needless to say, I’m curious to see how the next effort will play out, influenced by a brighter look at life. The depressing series of unfortunate events faired quite well for this release, but will a less depressed Michael Cullen stack up against the woeful one? We’ll have to wait and see.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by: Brian Lion — (Follow him on Twitter)

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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