It is a couple of years since acclaim embraced the second EP, as indeed its predecessor the year before, from British songwriter Chris Mullin and surely is destined to again as he returns with the four track temptation, Still Treading Water.
Bassist/co-songwriter for The Sums and formerly of 90’s Brit pop band Hurricane #1, Mullin has woven a radiantly individual sound and presence in his solo creativity and again it shines on ears from within Still Treading Water. It is a proposition which draws on previous decades for its pop imagination but equally brings a hint of a psychedelically nurtured breath to music which fascinates as it seduces. Debut EP, Myself Fooling Me, was a blend of warmth and melancholy wrapped in melodic seduction which easily found welcome ears with its 2017 release. The Sooner or Later EP of the following year blossomed in the same vein but quickly revealed a bolder adventure and enterprise in its similarly tempting body. Both releases lyrically and emotionally also had an intimacy which stirred the senses and fair to say that his new offering follows suit. Its breath and voice is familiarly Chris Mullin but stands as another striking and evolved moment in his writing and sound.
With every aspect of Still Treading Water all Mullin and recorded, produced and mixed at his home studio in Liverpool during Lockdown 2020, the EP immediately invited and seized attention through opener Some You Win. Instantly, alongside an enticing stroll of a bassline a deviously magnetic melody lures; its steely guitar threads pure temptation and courting the imagination. Both continue as Mullin’s tones equally entice, the summery air of the song increased leading to a chorus which breaks like a ray of virulence on eager participation. As suggested earlier, the song radiates a fusion of pop textures and influences across the sixties through to the nineties as it had us bouncing in tandem with its own animation.
The following Said It From The Start has a slightly mellower gait but is as spirited and lively as its predecessor within its own singular catchiness. Keys and rhythms collude in a web of charm and fascination which vocals and melody simply stretch out their own wiles and attraction upon. A heat of brass only adds to the richness and seduction of the track, the EP already dangling irresistible hooks through its first pair of outstanding songs and eagerly rewarding our bite there and to come.
Designer Dis-Ease soon shares its own particular weave of melody and rhythmic enticement, both aspects fuelled by a contagiousness which immediately burrowed under the skin as Mullin ponders a time of global change which will never quite see a world again as it was whilst equally adding a proposal which can be related to in other intimate situations and struggles. With hope a pungent lining, the track makes way for the EP’s closing title track, a song which immediately sparked thoughts of bands like The Bluebells and Pale Fountains but soon overrun them with its uniquely vibrant and imaginative prowess amidst viral manipulation.
As all tracks, it is a slice of alternative pop as contagious as it is skilfully bold and emotionally beguiling. The pandemic may have brought us dark and emotionally isolated times but it has also bred some moments of pure pleasure, the Still Treading Water EP tall among them.
Still Treading Water is out now across most stores and @ https://chrismullin.bandcamp.com/album/still-treading-water
Pete RingMaster 21/07/2020