It’s a lived-in voice, he’s only 27 but he’s doing his best Bryan Ferry-meets-Scott Walker croon. Every now and then you’ll hear a hint of the Australia in him but he’s trying very hard to be so much more than just a 27-year-old Australian guitarist/singer/songwriter/wannabe-weirdo. Trying very hard.
There’s been a lot of talk about Callinan as some great performer – another loop-pedal hero. Most of his debut long-player plays out like a university workshop to rebuild an early Echo & The Bunnymen record, well that’s the good bits anyway. At its early, jarring worst it sounds like Battle of The Bands Nine Inch Nails. David Bowie without that magic dust.
You don’t just get to just become Scott Walker or Kevin Rowland – you work at it – the strange sidesteps and odd alleyways within songs appear only after you’ve done the work; treaded the boards in a conventional sense. Ah, but who has time for that now.
So Callinan’s best – and truest – moment here is Chardonnay Sean, a lovely, lilting ballad that’s reminiscent of the crooner-styles Rowland S. Howard offered on parts of his final record. It’s also the one time where it’s obvious he actually cares about the song, is trying to say something, build up a mood, create something lasting. But too much of the music around that song sounds like some smug arcade-game soundtrack lifted and placed over go-nowhere/mean-nothing lyrics.
Hipsters will rejoice, there’s a line about crying when listening to Bruce Springsteen.
That’s about as deep and profound as this gets. So, not very.