Mike Marlin – Grand Reveal
With flattering comparisons to Lou Reed, David Bowie and Nick Cave, Oxford scholar Mike Marlin is certainly onto something with his third studio album Grand Reveal, released earlier this year. After the success of Nearly Man (an album Marlin recorded in his basement), the artist was propelled from being a creative experiment to supporting The Stranglers on their UK tour in 2011 and performing in front of a crowd of three and a half thousand at the Hammersmith Apollo. With the latest album being described as “Pink Floyd running riot in a jazz club,” fans are anticipating a musical masterpiece from the singer.
Written from a serial killer’s perspective, Skull beneath the Skin is the first release off Grand Reveal and is quite the haunting opener with Marlin’s menacing, creepy vocals: “In the night my dreams keep me awake…my blue eyes are your biggest mistake,” insisting to the listener “you have nothing to fear”. Next track, Grand Reveal has the same feel to it as a classic Bowie record: “Welcome to the grand reveal,” the singer drawls along to the sounds of classic rock guitars riffs sweeping us away to his world of wonder.
Marlin has a way of seducing the listener, all the while maintaining a bordering on psychotic weirdness. The Murderer features children’s toys, spooky violin melodies and discordant guitars creating what could easily be the soundtrack for a horror movie, and the singer’s vocal delivery is dark, brooding and intense, adding to the already eerie and uncomfortable atmosphere. Yet we can’t drag ourselves away from the macabre, lyrical stories, sucked in to the circus that is the Grand Reveal.
Final track To the Grave is a soothing, almost heart-breaking acoustic track that finishes the album off beautifully as the singer croons “a love as strong as this will go to the grave”. Ever the trickster throughout, it’s hard to decide whether Marlin’s record is a grim tale of a killer’s obsession or simply an enchanting love song. Whatever you decide, Grand Reveal is a corker of an album for one and all.
Grand Reveal was released on 8th April.
Watch the video for Skull Beneath the Skin here: