Album: Ian McCulloch, **

Slideling, Cooking Vinyl

Thursday 19 December 2013 05:13

Ian McCulloch has often featured interesting collaborators on his solo albums, and Slideling is no exception, with Coldplay's Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland – and weirder still, Barriemore Barlow of Jethro Tull – augmenting the Bunnyman's five-piece studio band. More significant than their presence, however, is the absence of guitarist Will Sergeant, McCulloch's most trusted cohort over the last quarter-century: accordingly, Slideling is the least Bunnymen-sounding album of his career, with the sole resemblance occurring on the psychedelic love song "High Wires", which finds McCulloch "still tripping out on high wires/ My mind is frozen but my soul's on fire". It's not, however, the only love/drug metaphor here; "Love in Veins", the routine Britpop chugger which opens the album, makes brazen play with ambivalent lines which could as easily be about heroin as love. Sadly, that's about as interesting as Slideling gets. Most of the rest of the album is taken up with hack phraseology or at best, weak inverted clichés such as "Where I'm heading I can't tell/ Down to heaven, or up to hell". The arrangements, too, are pallid, plodding affairs whose most striking moments derive from Ceri James' diverse keyboard parts. Catchiest of all is "Stake Your Claim", its New Order-style riff embellished with layered vocal counterpoints: it's the only song here anthemic enough to charm its way on to daytime radio.

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