20 Jun 2017

Kirin J Callinan - Bravado (album review)

Kirin J Callinan is a eccentric as they come as a lyricist and vocalist and the instrumental work on his sophomore record live up to the over the top persona that bleeds through all of his music. Bravado is a perfect concoction of cheesy 80s Pop, Euro dance, emotive American dad rock… Oh wait you don’t think that sounds good? Well it is.

Every moment of this record is packed with unexpected twists and turns in style. Take for instance the track Down To Hang, with its melancholic Coil-esque intro. It sounds like it’s going to be taking the record down a murky black lake of puns about hanging. It does however. Kirin fits this dark humour around a funky guitar and an insane avant garde horn section, which are just a batshit as the lyrics on this track; “An asphyxiated man with a belt and a fan, his dick in his hand she's down to hang” being a highlight.

Live each day is prefect spoof of the ‘meaningful’ American pop rock, which is as clich├ęd as one of those tacky inspirational slogans your mum would stick on the wall.  Lyrics “His daddy said on his deathbed son Live each day or maybe he read it on a fridge magnet”,  and “then he, he had a sandwich truly loved that sandwich like it was his last” are proof than Callinan is a satirical genius.

S.A.D the albums lead single in itself is a goldmine of lyrical quirk and catchy song writing, Kirin’s take on a stadium synth rock number a true set closer which could invoke the pouring of both tears and pints. His vocal performance on this song is fantastic, delivering the verses in this bizarre baritone style with thrown in snippets of autotune. As he growls lyrics like “wrapped up in plastic, thrown down the stairs feeling fantastic.” Possibly the moment that’s best to summarise this record is when Kiran sings  “My higher self, self-aware enough, enough to know” it’s a kind of 4th wall break much like that in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games an Kiran’s self-awareness is a contributing factor to this albums brilliance. The track Big Enough gives us an Ibiza style synth line and placed alongside epic screaming from Callinan before he goes on the incant various names of countries.

Bravado boasts a strong list of credited artists which includes Mac Demarco, Weyes Blood and James Chance. The whole thing is stunning from front to back with enough detours to keep you on edge throughout its entirety and the closer and title track couldn’t be any more fitting if you were going to describe this album you’d probably just say “It was all Bravado”.


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(Words: Aimee Armstrong)