Cullen Omori – New Misery (SubPop) ALBUM REVIEW

June 6, 2017
1 min read
Witchdoctor Rating
  • 3/10
    - 3/10


GARY STEEL asks: Why do so many albums sound intentionally awful and artless?

So, this is the solo debut from a guy who used to sing for American band the Smith Westerns, whoever they were. Its Metacritic rating is 72/100, while The Guardian gave it a dashing 4/5, and Pitchfork an encouraging 6.2/10.

Here’s my real-time reaction as I listened in.

‘No Big Deal’. Alt-pop, a kind of big ballad with a Beach Boys influence, but has that degraded cheap-ass compressed, thin sound. ‘Classic’ pop elements, but the artless, slightly fractured feel of some guy multi-dubbing in a home studio, so there’s not a lot of care or interplay or definition. The guitar (?) solo is so distorted and obscured by all the hash around it that it doesn’t justify its existence.

‘Two Kinds’. Lennonish bending of the vocal melodies, organ and indistinct jangle. Why is the vocal buried? Not good enough to want to hear lyrics? The rest of the sound isn’t interesting enough – drift and jangle – to warrant the mixdown.

‘Hey Girl’. Whenever I hear something rendered unenjoyable through horrible sound non-design, I’m glad that album lengths are much-reduced these days. Tries to be anthemic, sing-along, with its big drums and organ chords, but really, it’s ham-fisted and just not good enough. I’d like to hear a hi-res version of these songs performed properly. Perhaps then they would show at least some promise. Or not.

‘And Yet The World Still Turns’. Ballad with whispy everything. Oh, here comes the ‘power’ pop. But where’s the bass? God, that voice is so characterless and weedy.

‘Cinnamon’. Buoyant stomp. “All we are my love, 100 miles of love.” What?

‘Poison Dart’. Such an anachronistic sound – a wet, ‘sweet’ sound with embedded nostalgia.

‘Sour Silk’. Blah.

‘Synthetic Romance’. The drums suddenly sound clearer. In fact, the whole thing sounds a bit better here. He’s trying for faux Spector thing here (how original), but it doesn’t work.

‘Be A Man’. That John Lennon thing again. Light strum. Thing is, Lennon hid the caustic right behind the winsome; this guy just sounds weak.

‘LOM’. Upbeat. “Relief is coming soon!” Too right! The record will end! “Stains on my pillow”? Ewww.

‘New Misery’. More Lennon/Beatles but… but… but. Thank Christ it’s finished.



Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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