Press for Ciao My Shining Star:
The Songs of Mark Mulcahy
Press for MARK MULCAHY's In Pursuit of Your Happiness
IN PURSUIT OF YOUR HAPPINESS
"majestic, mind-blowing, quite marvellous - your happiness is assured if you
purchase this record" 5 Stars - THE SUN
"terrific - his third solo album opens wounds and plays with the patterns as
the blood runs free" 4 Stars - THE GUARDIAN
" a career best - the kind of magic that unites the Yorkes and Hornbys of
this world" 4 Stars - THE TIMES
"a welcome and substantial return to form"
4 Stars - UNCUT
"his songs cast their spell long after the record's finished, scratching
away at your subconscious until you go back of your own volition"
4 Stars - Observer Music Monthly
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Mark Mulcahy's old band Miracle Legion, were once feted as peers of the
emerging REM, but ended up in a welter of litigation. Mulcahy has been left
with a streak of delicious misanthropy which he exploits to the full: his
third solo album opens wounds and plays with the patterns as the blood runs
free. In Cookie Jar, he's vengefully addressing an acquaintance whose "house
is only made of cards". The terrific I Have Patience sees the author dining
alone again and drips killer lines like: "The things I have loved don't
bring me joy/The things I want, I want to destroy." However, Mulcahy is more
complex than a sociophobe and is not beyond lines of hope: "I wish I was
naive again." Aided by J Mascis and Pixies' Joey Santiago, the music tours
the emotional spectrum from stark keyboard-vocal ballads to bittersweet
Velvet Underground chugs. It's all sculpted around an eerie, Reed-like voice
much loved by Thom Yorke and will appeal to anyone in awe of self-loathing
with good tunes.
MMM ... majestic, mind-blowing, quite marvellous Mark Mulcahy.
Not a name on everyone's lips... but it should be. This record, mellow at
times, urgent at others, always sustains immense power and grace. After a
relatively modest career as leader of Connecticut band Miracle Legion,
Mulcahy's third solo album is the work of a man truly getting into his
stride. He finds great vocal range as his muse takes him through noirish
ballads and mid-tempo rockers to wasted, almost grungy closer He Vanished.
Your happiness is assured if you purchase this record. Top Mark.
Thom Yorke calls him “the greatest voice I have ever heard” and Nick Hornby
dedicated a whole chapter to him in his book 31 Songs. When music obsessives
this far apart are bewitched, you must be on to something. Yet Mulcahy is
still something of a cult, despite his role in elevating 1980s American
indie rock as the honey-throated frontman of the Miracle Legion. This third
solo album may change that. A career best, it shows off his usual mastery of
tremulous, bare ballads (Can’t Find a Reason to Let You Go and Be Sure). The
guests J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr) and Joey Santiago (Pixies) add guitar to the
Miracle Legion-style I Have Patience and the exquisitely baleful He
Vanished, while Cookie Jar’s quivering vocal and wry imagery (“I wonder if
you’re bitter/ and all that you’ve considered/ might marmalade your mind”)
is the kind of magic that unites the Yorkes and Hornbys of this world.
4 stars (April 2005)
Third solo album from ex-Miracle Legion frontman
Mark Mulcahy's 1999 solo debut, Fathering, was a raw-boned classic on
which his erogenous singing drew comparisons with Buckley pere et fils.
The follow-up, SmileSunset, was a more mainstream affair, lusher but
oddly muted. In Pursuit Of Your happiness sits somewhere between the
two. Lyrically, it's a return to his darker side. "The things I love
don't bring me joy/The things I want, I want to destroy" he sings on
the Velvets-ish "I Have Patience". J Mascis and Joey Santiago provide
layers of guitars, while stark ballads "Be Sure" and "Everything's
Coming Undone" tremble with claustrophobic emotion. And, best news of
all, on "Can't Find A Reason" and "A World Away" he sings with the old,
vaulting abandon that once led Thom Yorke to dub his voice the most
beautiful in the world. A welcome and substantial return to form.
OBSERVER MUSIC MONTHLY
Thom Yorke loves the ex-Miracle Legion singer. It's time, says Peter
Paphides, the rest of us caught up.
The line between singer-songwriter and confidence trickster is a fine one -
and we've all been had at one stage or another. The earth shakes a little
off its axis as unshaven man bravely plumbs his soul for poetry, just so
that we can feel like VIPs in his emotional guest enclosure. Inevitably,
that sense of privilege is easily mistaken for enjoyment - and it's that
confusion that manages to sustain so many journeyman auteurs.
All of which is worth dwelling on because Boston's Mark Mulcahy isn't one of
those. In fact, his songs reverse the process. He sings in the same way that
bullied schoolchildren learn to apologise - which means that even when
framed by pensive cellos on 'Everything Coming Undone', Mulcahy is too
modest to contrive drama out of his predicament. The end of a relationship
leaves him sounding scatty and distracted, but not heroic. Which, of course,
is more often than not what it's like. Certain fans have been taking note
for a long time. Thom Yorke once travelled from Oxford to London's Rough
Trade shop to pick up a copy of an album by his old band Miracle Legion.
As befits someone who unwittingly acted as tutor to one of our best singers,
Mulcahy seems to locate raw nerves in the listener like a heat-seeking
missile. On the slow-burn falsetto of 'Can't Find A Reason To Let You Go' he
comes on like a reluctant kidnapper, choking back the tears as he prepares
the gaffer tape. And as with those people who fall in love with their
captors, you think that you'll scarper once he's released you.
But ultimately, that's the most important difference between Mulcahy and
other singer-songwriters. Far from just looking impressive on your shelf,
his songs cast their spell long after the record's finished, scratching away
at your subconscious until you go back of your own volition.
Burn It: 'Can't Find A Reason To Let You Go'; 'Everything's Coming Undone'
Like Mark Lanegan, the former Miracle Legion frontman Mark Mulcahy has
overcome a fractured recording schedule - in his case, an unhelpful label's
imposition of a two-year hiatus in effect froze his band out of existence -
to establish a solo career. Since Smilesunset (2001), he's apparently
co-written (with cartoonist Ben Katchor) and starred in two operas, the
collaborative nature of which spills over into In Pursuit of Your Happiness,
where friends, including Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis and the Pixies' Joey
Santiago, help him to realise this batch of brooding, self-lacerating
reflections, delivered in a cracked, tremulous tone. The settings favour the
sombre timbres of cello, piano, organ and accordion. The title track sets
the tone of disquieting dissatisfaction, its nod to narcotic temptation
("Taken more than you confess/ In pursuit of your happiness") carrying over
into "Cookie Jar", where the languid rhythm guitar and organ are decorated
by a poignant French horn break. His problem is crystallised in "I Have
Patience": "The things I love don't bring me joy/ The things I want, I want
to destroy". It's a tough conundrum, but then, as he notes in "4:04",
"Mission unaccomplished/ 'Cos the best things happen in reclusion/ Leave us
alone". —Andy Gill
Esquire Magazine Best of 99
Mark Mulcahy-Fathering No. 3
"Mulcahy not only plays all the instruments but overlays his own vocal harmonies and counterparts in a set of emotionally involving, highly personal songs. Don't let the fact that Radiohead love him or that he's opened for Oasis and Seal confuse the issue: this man is very much a singer songwriter to be filed along side Tim Buckley, Neil Young or Jackson Browne."