Cussen is the brainchild of Cork singer-songwriter Kieran O’Callaghan. More a collective than a band, Faded Films marks their first full-length release, following debut single ‘Spare Fuse’ in June.
O’Callaghan describes the album as:
“a collection of seven distant memories that replay over and over in the mind, slowly decaying and gradually losing resolution like faded films.”
However, one can’t help but feel like the deterioration process doesn’t take all that long. While the Cussen sound boasts bright, ever-changing guitar chord progressions, O’Callaghan’s rich, honeyed baritone vocal, plenty of vocal harmony, and bursts of strings, horns and keys; there’s something very humdrum and schmaltzy about how it all comes off.
The clean but compressed production leaves the songs feeling sterilised. Even the Fagen-via-DeMarco jazz/funk inflected rock of moments like ‘Before the News’, ‘Brother Awol’ and ‘Wellspring’ are scrubbed down to retail outlet background music mimicry of the aforementioned. The arrangements, while considered, feel as though they follow a template of how to make a dad-rock revival indie song.
While O’Callaghan’s voice has timbre for days, the performance—at times country troubadour, others lounge lizard—doesn’t offer much to connect with on an emotional level. An analysis of the lyrics could prove fruitful, but when delivered this way, it’s difficult to care enough to make the effort.
It’s not easy to write about music like this. It’s not easy to listen to it either. There’s no denying the technical proficiency and musical prowess of those involved. Nonetheless, for all the bells and whistles, Faded Films just doesn’t warrant projection.