Oh, the wilful obscurity of it all! I know of Bobby Mullarkey – he who hides behind the moniker of RWM – but you will most likely not. He was of a band called Seminole that threatened to bring intellect to indie rock in Glasgow but that, unfortunately, was not to be. Said Mr Mullarkey also released a bleak yet rewarding album called “A Simple Music for a Simple Public” a couple of years back and now he returns with “Roux”.
It is fair to say that his last album was not designed, on the whole, to be accessible so – as something of a concession to possible commercial success? – this album is, by contrast, eminently hummable. That does not mean that the lyrics have been sugar coated for they most certainly have not. Even the rock star friendly title track slaps you whilst making you wonder if this is what Paul Weller would sound like if he had an obsession with power pop’s past and just the right amount of do or die pharmaceuticals close to hand. As another example, the immensely mellow “The Lights Are On” seems less an end of the night ballad to facilitate proximity to the one you might love than a jump off the cliff of life into the sea of suffering. It’s a head trip and it’s the porpoise song of the album.
I suppose I might have stumbled on the enigma here. “Roux” is a collection of power pop songs that have strong echoes of the past and you can’t help but be drawn to the conclusion that beneath the surface confection is something altogether more disturbed. It is perhaps an odd thing to say but for all the respect due because of the presentation, this remains a surprisingly difficult album to like as it is unsettling but I’m not really sure why. Work that one out but perhaps that is the true explanation for that wilful obscurity.
The album can be downloaded from Bandcamp.