Based in Sydney Australia, Michal Cullen is an Australian singer/songwriter who earned his stripes playing with a long list of Australian post-punk bands such as The Hardheads and Watershed before going solo at the turn of the century releasing his debut album “Love Transmitter”. Due to poor promotion and medical issues, the album didn’t quite get the promotion it needed. It was re-released in 2012 and this time, it received a bit more attention, Australian blog Tomatrax included it in a list of Australia’s greatest albums. The newfound success of the album spurred Cullen to release a follow-up, “True Believer”, which was released in October 2014.
“Black Dog” is the first track. Guitars rake chords while Cullen blurs the line between talking and singing. His gruff low register sounds like a mix of Tom Waits and Mark Lanegan with a bit more aggression. “Believer”, the second song is similar in that it wouldn’t sound out of place in a spaghetti Western and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
“Damaged” is the next song that sticks out. Trading the guitars and drum kits for keyboards and electronic beats it’s an interesting change of pace, the only problem being that Cullen’s voice might not be the best suit for a song like this. It feels a bit mismatched, but it’s always good to hear an artist taking themselves out of their comfort zone.
“Cha Cha Cha D’Amour”, the albums lead single, is a fitting return to form. While it is sonically much more similar to the albums earlier tracks, it’s a more uptempo number and it breathes a bit more life into the album. The following song, “I Walk Alone” keeps things going, making these to tracks the highlight of the album.
“Broken Horses” is the final song and it’s a fist-pumping Rock N’ Roll number, but there’s something about it that sounds weirdly out of character for Cullen. It ends “True Believer” on the wrong foot but despite this, there are definitely more than a few good songs on this album, making it well worth listening to.