CJ Wildheart – Mable


Review by Ian Savage


Release date: 4 August 2014

There is surely no other band on the planet that can lay claim to as many off-shoots and side-projects as The Wildhearts. Alongside mainman Ginger’s seemingly never-ending creative output, the last couple of decades have seen outstanding records from The Yo-Yos, The Jellies, Honeycrack, The Chasers, Grand Theft Audio and plenty more – the latest for our collective delectation is guitarist CJ‘s seven-years-in-the-making Mable.

The man has consistently shown himself to be the pop Yang to Ginger’s more out-there experimental rock Yin – given a few listens, Mable simultaneously underlines and undermines this preconception. Opener ‘Better Late Than Never’ spectacularly picks up where his last project Thirteen left off, a layered simple-yet-intricate four-chord preposition with a beautifully-harmonised chorus, before lead single ‘Down The Drain’ kicks the distortion and attitude up a few notches.

Certainly harder-hitting as a complete work than a lot of CJ’s prior solo output, Mable is perhaps the first album where he has stepped far enough away from old writing habits (and perhaps even old cohorts) to produce something totally fresh. Highlights like the minor-key-bridge-into-soaring-chorus on ‘DC’ and the catchy-as-herpes ‘Vitriol’ perfectly illustrate rock influences blended with Beach Boys pop harmony, whilst penultimate tune ‘Devil’ lets in a little more electronic augmentation for an industrial thrash unlike anything he’s put out before.

Surely autobiographical closer ‘Midlife Crisis?’ is a worthy if comparatively uninspiring end to something of a rollercoaster 37 minutes – combined with the slightly by-the-numbers chorus to ‘Kentucky Fried’ it keeps Mable from pulling an all-stars review, but all the same this is probably the best thing CJ has released since Honeycrack’s Prozaic way back in 1996. Well-crafted pop-rock with an ear to the ground and eyes on the horizon – for Wildhearts fans Mable is pretty much essential, but is highly recommended for anyone with a taste for big choruses, distorted guitars and a soupcon of something a little different.

CJ Wildheart – Mable8.5 out of 10

Track listing: 

  1. Better Late Than Never
  2. Down The Drain
  3. Next To You
  4. Vitriol
  5. Always Believe Her
  6. Kentuky Fried
  7. DC
  8. Come With Me
  9. State Of Emergency
  10. Devil
  11. Midlife Crisis?