Whilst it is very easy to hear parallels with the likes of everyone from The Divine Comedy to Richard Hawley to Scott Walker and The Go-Betweens in his music, none of them seems to bring all of the pieces of the perfect sonic jigsaw together quite as expertly as Cathal Coughlan. And The Knockout Artist is another example of just why it is good to have him back making new music.
Here, the music is infectious in a way that pop doesn’t get close to and which rock couldn’t possibly understand. The beat alone will have even the most ardent wallflower shuffling their feet and the way that the music spirals around this core sound is both deft and delicious.
But it is as a lyricist that he really excels, able to poke and prod at society and its denizens, cut to the lofty heights and shameful lows of politics with exact precision and get to the heart of the human experience through poignancy and poetry. Taken from his sixth studio album, Song of Co-Aklan, this latest sonic adventure sees him team up with all manner of players and bandmates from his Fatima Mansions and Microdisney days, as well as such luminaries as The Auteur’s Luke Haines and Scritti Politti’s Rhodri Marsden.
The album may be his first new music in a decade but The Knockout Artist proves that not only has he not lost his touch for writing killer songs but also why he is such a highly regarded artist in the first place.