Review: Michael P Cullen & the Soul Searchers – “Believer”

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“Believer” gives off Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen vibes right out of the gate. But the single from Sydney, Australia’s Michael P Cullen and The Soul Searchers finds its own footing once the song gets going. The lead single from the forthcoming EP Live at Lazybones shows a lot of promise featuring tight playing, a catchy guitar riff, and an accessible vocal that is somewhere between gritty and raspy.

The alt-rock outfit churns out this cinematic-ready tune featuring echoed heavy breathing, a catchy refrain, and a combination of poetry and alternative rock blended together in a timeless way that is refreshingly different from the state of modern music. Had you shown up to a party with “Believer” on a dusty old 45, nobody would bat an eyelash in believing this was a long lost gem from the ’60s, but it also resonates in today’s sonic atmosphere thanks to its genuine musicianship and unabolished uniqueness.

The Soul Searchers contribute a lot to the song’s success. The balance between instruments is completely familiar for fans of The National, but Cullen’s voice is what sets this music apart. Craig Wilson’s keyboards and the mixture of guitars blend well together with Cullen’s sometimes deadpan vocal delivery, ending in a concoction that tells of longing, lost love, and soul searching. This song would not be out of place in a Bukowski novel or playing quietly on a noir crime drama.

Lyrically, “Believer” has some footing to find. “I loved the wrong woman / she had nothing to give,” Cullen sings, churning out some standard cliches that ultimately dance around in a series of couplets that amount to no narrative. Maybe the point of the song is not storytelling, though. The focus here seems to be on the tone and atmosphere that Cullen and the boys deliver.

Listening to this live version of “Believer” you can really imagine the energy Cullen and The Soul Searchers would bring to their performance. There are haunting, brooding tones in the song that juxtapose nicely with the somewhat boppy chorus. On the verses, we are invited in to the artist’s turmoil, and then we unravel for some head bopping during the chorus.

Listen below to Michael P Cullen’s “Believer (Live)”, courtesy of Michael P Cullen’s SoundCloud page. Be sure to check out Michael P Cullen official site as well as his Facebook, YouTube, and BandCamp pages.