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Mike Marlin - Nearly Man (Album Review)

Thursday, 03 February 2011 Written by Jonny Rimmer
Mike Marlin - Nearly Man (Album Review)

An album 25 years in the making, 'Nearly Man' is the debut record by singer-songwriter Mike Marlin, a man who is very much the sum of his influences. Marlin’s vocals particularly zigzag: there is Damon Albarn’s frankness, Ian McCulloch’s drawl, even David Bowie-esque vibrato.  

That’s not to say that this record is devoid of musical craft. This might be one of the ‘busiest’ albums of the year, with horns, strings, glockenspiel and xylophone and plenty of cheesy synthesisers popping up throughout this album like cameos. When you consider that this album presents three decades of song writing, Nearly Man is vibrant, fresh and full of character.

ImageWhilst the album is produced scrupulously, and packed with more musical ideas than most pop groups would throw their pro-tools at, it is also a little unfocused. With every passing moment augmented beyond credulity, Marlin’s vocals and lyrics get lost in the mix. Perhaps it would be harsh to criticise some of the verbal wit on show here, but refrains such as “My heart is like an iceberg” and “I don’t get paid for my bad behaviour” are almost cringe worthy when repeated again and again without pause for comic effect.

Mike’s baritone also register lacks the passion and enthusiasm that you’d expect after such a lengthy preparation period, slipping within some very predictable passages towards the album’s close. Choruses are lacking, and all the instrumentation and musical technique seem futile when the word at lip is filler.

Still, there are definite pop treasures that can be unearthed if you give Marlin’s debut a couple of listens. HMV have already tipped him as one of the ‘next big things’ of 2011, and aspiring singer-songwriters would do well to attempt the potent mixture of ambition and entertainment that Marlin accomplishes here.

Stereoboard Album Rating: 6/10

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