Cathal Coughlan – Songs of Co-Aklan review

Some things it seems stay true: in Microdisney’s 1987 Top 40 near miss Town To Town Cathal Coughlan sang “She’s nervous and her/Best friend is waiting/She’s trying to pronounce my name”. The quintet that he led along with co-conspirator Sean O’ Hagan would dissolve three years later despite their album The Clock Comes Down The Stairs being widely acknowledged as one of the decade’s best by an Irish artist; a remarkable feat (Or not) given U2‘s dominance of the spotlight at the time.

Coughlan went on to form the more combative Fatima Mansions and then to release a string of material solo and gleaned from projects such as The North Sea Scrolls with Luke Haines, but his first album proper for almost a decade introduces the conceptual figure Co-Aklan, the handle a bid to resolve once and for all the issue of the general public’s inability to come to terms with what we should call him.

Premise aside, Songs of Co-Aklan underlines Coughlan as a songwriter with a rare ability to turn allegories into bite. Here his acerbic glances at our ongoing self-sabotage come wrapped in a musical Trojan Horse that’s grown up and skilled without feeling soporific or dated; Passed Out Dog, The Knockout Artist and the title track each in some way bear the stamp of Microdisney’s iceberg-like approach to social discourse in pop. The man in the street might need to learn some Co-Aklan after all.

You can read a full review here.

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