Jolyon Mulholland is one of those backroom guys that other musicians always rave about. Heck, the publicity blurb for Mulholland’s debut album has even utilised that fact by heading it with a statement by Neil Finn: “Jol’s one of the most talented guys I know – he’s got talent exuding from every pore.”
He’s also a musician, composer and sound engineer who has worked with the likes of Chris Knox, Connan Mockasin, Laurence Arabia, and was recently in Liam Finn’s touring band.
Eugene Told Me You Were Dead was apparently home-recorded, then mixed and mastered in the best studios available. It’s a tactic that does sometimes allow the intimacy and spontaneity that often comes from home studios to then get sonically “enhanced”. While it certainly is an idiosyncratic record, there’s nothing particularly “bedroom” about its sound; for which we’re grateful.
He’s obviously taken with the ‘60s and, particularly, the early-to-mid ‘70s. The album is full of the kind of outrageous studio craft that made the early work of groups like 10cc and Queen so entertaining, along with the more specifically glam bands of that era.
But Mulholland isn’t limited to just one musical style. ‘It’s Only An Illusion’ plays on the rabble-rousing folk/country/rock tropes of the Rolling Stones of the early ‘70s, while the song that follows it, ‘Fairytales & Constellations’, is built on a bed of electronica, and would make a modern-day pothead pixie very happy. The lack of a fixed genre, on one hand, makes for an entertaining listen; but on the other, swinging from anthemic power pop (‘Beautiful People’) to the propulsive ‘80s rock sound of ‘Turn The Lights Out’ also makes it a slightly schizophrenic experience, like a series of non-sequiturs that refuses to allow us to catch on to the narrative.
While Mulholland’s craft can’t be faulted, his vocals are something of a weak point, and the songs (despite their fab accoutrements) somehow remain resolutely minor. Eugene Told Me You Were Dead is a great calling card for Mulholland’s ability (he recently moved to New York) and the talent behind it is undeniable, but the artist inside him is yet to find its feet. GARY STEEL
Music = 3/5
Sound = 3.5/5