Review Summary: give what you seek, you will find.
When Nick Mulvey's rather flawless debut album First Mind
enjoyed its cursory run through my speakers one fateful morning commute, I was completely awe-struck by the depth of everything that was hitting my ears. The layers of acoustic guitar weaving in and out of eachother, the swelling bass lines, the ecelectic yet earthbound lyricism... it was a perfect storm of finding new love in my own life and discovering some truly incredible music through that romantic connection. That morning will always be with me, and a lot of that has to do with Nick Mulvey's debut LP. Since then, every microsecond of First Mind
has become ingrained on my synapses, filling my mind and heart while I've waited for him to match the brilliance of his work from over 8 years ago. 2017's Wake Up Now
missed that mark, arriving as an adequate yet underwhelming offering that missed the dartboard where First Mind'
s bullseye throw still sticks, so the hope that New Mythology
would be a return to form came as a combination of anticipation and worry.
Luckily, Nick's third full-length album is definitely an improvement when compared against its predecessor, just don't expect it to be a carbon copy of his finest hour. This time around, his indie-folk musings have been stewed with an eclectic mix of nostalgic keyboards, interesting production effects and wildly catchy songcraft that places the affair squarely between humble homebrew energy and contemporary industry standard aesthetics. These fits of approachable creativity, like the walloping bass on "The Gift" that sharply contrasts the by-the-numbers folk song that glides atop it, or the poppy hooks and hums of "Star Nation" and "Mecca" are largely successful endeavors that highlight Mulvey's ear for detail, and keep New Mythology
from being "just another folk album".
You can hear the growth in Nick Mulvey's lyrics too. On First Mind
, the feverish approach to the songwriting lent itself brilliantly to lines like "Venus comes to share and she's standing there, she plaits her hair with threads of gold, two threads of gold"
and "strings as a pencil, a breath I drew in you, indigoferra the one in the two, a rose on a trellis I grew for you, sing a spell to a Pharoah, the one in the two"
from the opening verse of "The Trellis", but in the time between then and now, Mulvey's words have matured with the years, for better or worse. See, while the mystical feeling of his yesteryear's voice has largely given way to a more upfront and worldly way of explaining his heart, things are, by and large, just as poetic. "And I do it for my own, my little boy my little girl, and we do it for our home, if we do it for the world"
highlights "A Prayer For My Own" and offers a glimpse of the humility and positivity of his messages in 2022. Every track has something important to say, and each one holds a unique identity that differentiates it from the others both musically and lyrically, whether it be "Sea Inside"s "brother, don't seek the lie don't put on the tie don't buy the book, there's plenty in the lower layer if you dare so much, if you're willing to look, but if you wanna keep on cooking a dream then stay where the dreaming's done"
or the illumination of "every time I walk away there's a voice, I hear it say, have you suffered enough? Or can we play with the tragedy as just another way to get free?"
on "Causes". All this combines to paint a portrait of a family man with a heart full of love and a wish to make the world a better, wiser place free from the trappings of narrow-minded thinking, and for the most part New Mythology
achieves that goal.
Ultimately, Mulvey's third album is a celebration of simply being a thinking, feeling human being. His words and music have always spoken an emotionally intelligent, universal language in a very special way, and with New Mythology
we get treated to it all with a flair for creativity and clarity. Surely it's not a perfect album, but it's steady nonetheless, and the unbridled honesty of expression on display makes it a tough one criticize in any meaningful way. Those expecting a First Mind
Part II won't find what they're looking for with New Mythology
's shift in stylistic direction, but if your heart and mind are as open as Nick Mulvey's in the current age, this is an album that's sure to bring you some existential joy and heartfelt contemplation.