Michael Cullen – “Do You Believe?”
Australian singer-songwriter Michael Cullen has been producing atmospheric rock tunes since the early ’90s, when he formed rock three-piece The Hardheads and released an acclaimed EP, The Long Goodbye, in 1993. After The Hardheards became Watershed shortly thereafter, they followed up that EP with their first full-length. That album – 1995’s You Buried Me – included the drumming of Tim Powles, an Aussie music veteran who has played with The Divinyls, Angry Anderson, and The Church. He started working with The Church right around that time, too. Needless to say, it was a very compatible collaboration, and it continues to this day.
Almost two decades later, Cullen and Powles returned for another collaboration: Cullen’s album Love Transmitter. Cullen’s emotive baritone and atmospheric songwriting skills combined with Powles’ tasteful drumming to draw plenty of acclaim upon the album’s original release. Love Transmitter has recently been remastered, giving us all an opportunity to listen to one of the more acclaimed Australian underground rock records. Cullen’s eclectic stylistic tendencies stretch everywhere from synth-pop to goth-rock, as evident on album opener “Do You Believe?” On that track, a synth organ develops over Powles’ patient yet expansive percussion. Cullen’s vocals are idiosyncratic but work melodically, much like Dave Gahan for Depeche Mode or David Byrne for Talking Heads.
The track’s chorus – where “do you believe in love?” is asked repeatedly – works extremely well, serving as a nice example of Cullen’s ability to dig out a hook from uncommon stylistic hybrids and idiosyncratic vocal deliveries. Cullen and Powles have been generating buzz in the Australian rock scene for decades though, so I guess the success shouldn’t be all that surprising. Listen for yourself, and stream Love Transmitter in its entirety below or purchase it on Bandcamp: