Mark Mallman – Double Silhouette

January 01, 1970



Approaching the work of an artist who’s preceded by
superlatives (“Pianist extraordinaire!” – The
Milwaukee Journal
; “Indie Superhero” – Minneapolis
City Pages
,” etc.), is pretty daunting. Especially if you’re ignorant of
the artist’s previous work.


First impressions of the music on Mark Mallman’s latest, Double Silhouette: Some passable power
pop. Interesting, apparently off-the-cuff 
song ideas (“Dirty Dishes,” “Slow the Guillotine,” “It Started with a
One Night Stand,” “Fight the Darkness with More Darkness”). A forced-feeling tenor
lead vocal that I don’t feel the desire to hear for more than the space of one
song that I like more than anything here. Songs often populated by the sort of
busy-ness that got its sea legs in the mid-‘80s and was at a full gallop by the
late ‘90s. Lots of dynamics: songs fade in, up, and out, with Mallman’s piano
or synth. Sounds often paving the way and having the last word.


The things I’ve heard about Mallman make me feel I should
join the general chorus (I haven’t searched for alternative opinions) of, more
or less, “He’s great!” But so much of this feels too high-pitched, frenetic,
and over-considered. It’s as if a 10-year-old boy who can’t get anyone to pay
attention keeps yelling.


Mallman’s songs are well-crafted, albeit with predictable
progressions. The best recall Todd Rundgren’s circa Something/Anything, when he was in the process of adding more
layers. I can imagine liking some of them more if they were delivered by a
simple coffeehouse player with less intense vocals.


Some light (on Mallman’s popularity) is shed by a fairy
world instrumental (“Single Silhouette”), the pretty, acoustic guitar-grounded
“Fight the Darkness with More Darkness,” and the simpler, slightly soulful
sound of “Shadow of the Darkest Dawn.”


If others  enjoy
Mallman more than I, fantastic. Sometimes less-than-rave reviews garner more
interest for artists, anyway. Maybe.


Silhouette,” “Shadow of the Darkest Dawn,” “Fight the Darkness with More
Darkness.” MARY LEARY


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