It's hard to believe that Sacha Mullin had anything to do with that abrasive record from Dead Rider that I reviewed a few weeks ago seeing as how the lush electro-pop on his new record, Duplex, sounds absolutely nothing like the tunes from that U.S. Maple spin-off.
Duplex is a lovingly-performed homage to the the sort of stuff that was easily labelled New Wave at one point in the past. The aching "Crow" echoes Eighties Erasure and even David Sylvian singles, complete with Sakamoto-style piano chords throughout. If "Dive" is similar, with nods to early Rufus Wainwright creeping through as well, the more adventurous "ユーレカ" pursues a more rhythmic path, bursts of percussion underpinning Mullin's soaring vocals. The cut is in Japanese, no less, with a title that translates to "Eureka", according to Google. The excellent "Dream Ain't Dead" marries a vocal performance that bears worthy comparison to Billy Mackenzie sides, with piano hooks that recall early Tori Amos singles. The second half of Duplex is more conventional but no less endearing, cuts like "Accept Treasure" and the spry "Applejack" recalling the things one loves so much about Rufus Wainwright ballads, for lack of an easier comparison. This is really distinctive stuff and Mullin is to be applauded for not only drawing inspiration from such worthy artists, but for pulling off this whole thing without a whole lot of pretension about the entire endeavor.
This is the sort of album that shouldn't slip under the radar as Duplex is lovely and adventurous in the right doses. Fans of The Associates, Depeche Mode, Japan, and The Blue Nile should find lots to love here, as I did.
More details on Sacha Mullin via his official Facebook page.
[Photo: Jim Newberry]