by Chris Familton
Finally the debut solo album from Sydney’s mercurial Kirin J Callinan sees the light of day. As a member of Mercy Arms and subsequent sonic game changer for Jack Ladder he has become a familiar figure on the local music scene. After the disconcerting music clips that preceded it this felt it was going to be a special album and indeed the wait has been worth it for Embracism is one confident and eccentric collection of dark pop songs.
By committing these songs to hard drive Callinan has defined his musical aesthetic and most notably he has been overwhelmingly successful at marrying violent dissonance and the traditional art of songwriting. Over 40 minutes he gives us ballads, cyberpunk, glam rock and austere art pop and it is his and producer Kim Moyes’ ear for succinct arrangements and tight editing that has enabled them to pull it off so seamlessly.
The electro-blues of opener Halo would sit comfortably on a Depeche Mode LP while the title track pushes Callinan’s Australian accent to the foreground amid screaming synth lines and brutally pulsing electronica. Victoria M is one of Embracism’s high points, tempering the intensity with gorgeous, swelling piano and bittersweet baroque pop in the vein of Suede. Elsewhere we get Callinan channeling David Sylvian on Scraps, Bowie on the schizophrenic Chardonnay Sean and Suicide on Way II War.
Callinan leaves us with the sparse and chiming melancholy of Landslide, a showcase for the range and theatricality his voice now possesses and the single Love Delay that builds in fits and starts before exploding into an astounding final act like an intoxicated and radiant LCD Soundsystem in super overdrive. This is an album that promised much and delivers so much more.
this review was first published on The Music and in Drum Media