Grave Reviews takes a look at the new release from CJ Wildheart: Mable, an album full of personality and good humour.
It’s been seven years since CJ Wildheart released a solo album. Since then, his band The Wildhearts have released albums, gone on “hiatus” and returned to grace the nostalgia circuit with strings of sold out shows. It seems the love for The Wildhearts in the UK has never died down, nor does it seem to be diminishing even though the band haven’t released anything new in 5 years. In the wake of this, CJ has taken full advantage of the recent success of The Wildhearts with his new PledgeMusic funded album “Mable”.
The album begins with “Better Late Than Never”, which is an apt title if there ever was one. It starts off with a bit of synth (that’s jargon for anything that remotely sounds like something played on a keyboard) and little “shimmery” sound effect that would sound cheesy anywhere else, but here it works suprisingly well and adds to the general good-time summer feel of the track. The song has a cheerful build-up before CJ’s unique voice is added to the mix, the lyrics a tale of self-realisation, the melody simple and a taster of what the rest of the album has to offer.
Mable has a bit of everything, a mood board of all that CJ has tried his hand in in the past: “Vitriol” and “Come With Me” pack a punch in a steady rock style, whereas “Down the Drain” displays a more serious mindset, with its clever eco-conscious lyrics (“Made in seven, played it on eleven / Never stopped to wonder why we were so blind”), whereas “Always Believe Her” sees more of his sentimental side.
In the past, CJ Wildheart’s music has always been consistent, decent but never quite “there” – maybe it was a question of timing or inexperience with personal songwriting, but there were so many songs that didn’t quite hit it as the chorus kicked off. Previously it felt like there was a bit of a burden on his shoulders, an expectation that each song has to be amazing and have the perfect chorus, but with Mable it seems that CJ has let everything flow naturally, as if each song has been felt out and explored before committing it to tape. and that has worked out so much better this time around. It’s not rushed, the songs are the perfect length – sorry to disappoint some Wildhearts fans, but there are no 11 minute epics on this album, everything is neatly packaged, fine-tuned and radio-ready.
This album has a pop rock feel to it: the basic formula for most of its songs is a catchy melody, solid guitar work and a rhythm anyone could dance to. It’s full of personality and humour, it’s down-to-earth (can you think of anything more friendly and relateable than an album named after a pet chicken?), CJ’s not let a long music career get to his head, nor did running a cleaning business bring this guy down.
You can still pledge for a copy of Mable (or some “Devil Spit” hot sauce!) here.