Cullen Omori

New Misery

Sub Pop

Mar 21, 2016 Issue # 56 - Best of 2015 - Father John Misty and Wolf Alice Bookmark and Share


Before he was old enough to drink, Cullen Omori was already responsible for some of the most irresistible glam rock this side of glitter paradise. Well, partly responsible, anyway. As the frontman of Smith Westerns, Omori's vocal parts glistened along with the lead guitar work of Max Kakacek, who was the other major creative force of the Chicago group during its quick ascent over the hearts (though less so the minds) of a substantial fan base.

The formula worked fantastically through two albums, but for the third LP, Soft Will, something wasn't right. It came as little surprise to hear soon after that the band was breaking up.

After a period of silence, Omori has now stepped forward with New Miserya solo debut that functions as a bit of a reinvention, for better or worse. Reinvention is his right, of course, yet fans of the guitar-band element of Smith Westerns are advised to temper expectations when heading in. Stylistically, this is a pop- and dance-oriented album, with synths driving the melodies and drums serving to anchor more than anything else. Basically, it's as if Omori ditched the Spiders From Mars and enlisted the Tubeway Army instead.

However he wants to present it, though, Omori's chief talent has always been a gift for writing strong hooks, and this he does with ease throughout. "Sour Silk," "Synthetic Romance," and "LOM" represent some of his finest songs to date, and hint at a promising amount of maturation since the last time we saw him. Elsewhere, mistakes have been made, such as on "And Yet the World Still Turns" and "Cinnamon," which are catchy, to be sure, but ultimately feel forced.

"Never wanted to be alone/And yet the world still turns," sings Omori, who is good at getting you to root for him. For someone with this much history by age 25, perhaps alone is the best place to be. (www.facebook.com/cullenomorimusic)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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