With the invention of YouTube, social media, and increased accessibility to music production software, would-be musicians can become sensational before they’re even old enough to play gigs in bars. But not all who choose music as their life goal decide quite so early.
Mike Marlin is one such person. After a life of changing directions between academia, business, family, and ultimately music, 52 years of have prepared Marlin for his Grand Reveal, uncovering his potential and artistry to both the world and to himself. And all those years have prepared him well. Grand Reveal is a haunting work of music, echoing like discordant, cracked bells through the halls of a dark, vacant, vaulted church. In the pews sits Marlin, singing in a chillingly clear voice similar to The Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler. But it’s not “pretty in pink” that concerns Marlin: more fitting would “darkness in ink.” The lyrics on the opening track “Skull Beneath The Skin” are sinister, and conversational and conveying on “Grand Reveal.” Most of the songs develop linearly, becoming deeper, denser, darker, and fuller as they continue: “Amazing” begins somber and subdued before eventually exploding with a wall of guitar distortion and clattering drums.
Reflecting Marlin’s long journey to music as well as paying homage to his punk rock roots, the production quality of Grand Reveal is perfectly gritty with broad, echoing soudscapes allowing Marlin’s lyrics to pass darkly from album to interpretation. On the whole, this debut album is a knock out. The anticipation of subsequent work from Mike Marlin is growing. 4/5.