Cult Fiction is the debut album from County Meath’s Cult Called Man. The band have released two EPs previously to much acclaim, and have established themselves as one of the most entertaining and in-demand original bands in the country. Drawing from ‘70s glam rock and ‘80s new wave dance music, CCM are often compared to David Bowie, Talking Heads and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
They hit the musical headlines last year after writing an open letter to Modest Mouse asking for a support slot. Their attempt may have been unsuccessful but the episode typifies CCM’s positive attitude and innate gumption. The broad sweep of their musical palette refuses to stick to a single genre or approach from one song to the next. Cult Called Man are possessed of an unapologetic pop sensibility, playing intelligent, accessible music delivered with a style and élan often missing from the indie scene. Their onstage bravado and scintillating performance is matched by the quality of the music and it is all tied together by ringmaster Luke ‘Razmo’ Cunningham. The only question is whether it would translate to the studio.
Thankfully CCM’s unconventional songwriting and personality come through on record. ‘I'm In A Dream’ is a mix of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust-era songwriting and his Scary Monsters instrumentation. Recent single 'Make It Easy' has an '80s white soul feel, like Bowie around that time, with falsetto harmonies. It is short and snappy with some Queen style flourishes. ‘The Martian’ has a singalong chorus while the five-part harmony of 'Sad Bunch’ is irresistible. ‘Lonely As Hell’ channels The Police and ‘Light Bulb Sam’ sounds like The Wiggles jamming with They Might Be Giants.
Like an old-fashioned pop band, each song has a different feel and rhythm to the last. While the rest of the band lay down harmonies that are tighter than a gnat’s chuff, Razmo yelps, croons, and howls over them with a degree of vocal control and finesse that is rare. He comfortably mixes smooth pop singing with expressive performance. The style is open and there is a real dynamism to the music. Cult Called Man are truly unique in Irish music, and probably beyond, and this collection of songs is an excellent introduction to their world.