Kirin J. Callinan
Bravado/S.A.D. double A-side
Siberia Records/ terrible / XL recordings
If David Bowie, Nick Cave and Peter Andre had a lovechild in a song, Kirin J. Callinan’s new single Bravado would be it. Whilst Bravado is beautifully sincere, sweeping and affecting, it is also playful, self-effacing and completely cheese-laden.
Kirin J. Callinan’s latest release comes via a double A-side which includes Bravado backed with S.A.D. (Song About Drugs). The songs are the first singles off Callinan’s upcoming studio album from the same name as lead single, Bravado, set for release on June 9.
Bravado is rightly the lead single, the song is a histrionic but heartfelt power ballad that is ingenuous and vulnerable, a complete breath of fresh air. Whilst the silky song soars and dips poetically, its point of difference is Callinan’s voice and emotion, which range from desolate bellowing to shrilling confusion. His voice has a rawness and vulnerability which really hits a chord with the listener. It has the perfect amount of imperfect, with little technical tweaking, making incredibly human and relatable, and works to make the song powerful and loveable.
Although the song is more traditional than Callinan’s 2013 release Embracism, his experimental roots still shine through with ear piercing electronic squealing, dreamy cheesy synth sounds, 80’s electro pop keys and tight understated percussion. It even features Akon-style chipmunk auto-tuned vocals in the harmonies and smokey, sexy spoken words.
The juxtaposition of confessional lyrics such as: “Here I stand, my head in a noose. Naked and alone and on display”, with the ostentatious soundscapes works well and Callinan pulls it off with a musical finesse and the innate humour and wit he has become famous for.
And then comes S.A.D., back to the Callinan we know, making experimental, light-hearted, nonsensical music. It is a disjointed, off beat, half mainstream hip hop, half electro pop and half soul rock mash-up of a song. And if that sounds hectic, that’s because it is.
Just in case we started taking him seriously with the highbrow beauty and revelation that is Bravado, he evens the score with the disorderly, chaotic and unashamedly ludicrous number that is S.A.D. With lines such as “get a lung full of dope smoke, now you laughing at my jokes. Laugh louder at my sick joke. Life begins at 1am,” and ending with “I love you mum,” it encapsulates his weirdness wholeheartedly.
Callinan sure knows how to push boundaries musically and combines comedy and irony in his music in a way we have never seen before, but it works better when the songs are more heartfelt. In fact, he is so good at writing moving songs, that you can’t help but wish he would put humour on the backseat just a little and focus on making masterful songs.
One thing is for sure, the songs leave you excited for the full album on June 9. You can’t help but wonder what wonderful weirdness and brilliance will come from Australia’s cheekiest and boldest modern musician.