Erstwhile Wildhearts guitarist CJ has spread his wings before, first with Honeycrack and the Jellys and more recently as frontman in CJ & The Satellites. Now he has followed in the footsteps of some of his band mates and released a solo album through a successfully funded Pledge Music campaign. The result is “Mable”, which, according to feedback, has already lived up to and exceeded many the high expectations that someone with his career behind him often has placed upon them.
From the opener ‘Better Late Than Never’, it is apparent that this album doesn’t stray too far from the formula that has worked so well in his other bands. Lively energetic melodic rock is the order of the day, where each song generally lasts between two and three minutes. The songs seem to pack a lot into the short running times, but never feel like they are too busy or complicated. Lyrically, the album takes out all of the frustration of the 9 to 5 existence that CJ lived through after the last Wildhearts album when he semi retired from music, and far from being depressing or self pitying, he has taken some dark thoughts and moments and turned them into glorious fun packed tunes that instantly stick in your head, so next time round they already seem like old favourites.
Whilst “Mable” largely deals in sub three minute catchy pop rock, there is plenty more going on. Tracks like ‘Down The Drain’ and ‘Come With Me’ are slower and heavier tracks that bring the tempo down from the more urgent pace that pervades throughout the rest of the album. ‘Always Believe Her’ is an absolute peach of a track, and one that wouldn’t have been out of place on long time collaborator Ginger’s ‘555’ triple album. The two other highlights have to be ‘Vitriol’ with its insanely catchy tune and vocal lines, and ‘DC’ with its “made for the audience sing-along” chorus.
As expected from someone with CJ’s past, “Mable”combines big riffs, contagious melodies, clever lyrics and enough different influences and touches to make it a very fresh sounding record. It shows off CJ’s very underrated talent as a songwriter and is the strongest of his offerings to date. It might not be to everyones tastes, but this off kilter collection should find plenty of fans of all different types of rock upon its physical release. A cracking album for the summer months, just turn it up loud.
Photo credit: Trudi Knight Photography