Album Review

Paul Draper – Cult Leader Tactics: Album Review

Paul Draper on how to become a complete cult in the music industry 😉

Release Date: 28th January 2022

Label: Kscope

Format: digital / CD / LP / coloured vinyl

Very clever that. The title. A hint of the waspish wit that inhabits Cult Leader Tactics.

A musical satire on all those self-help manuals inspires a strong and vibrant set from the former Mansun figurehead. All the tropes of those guides come thick and fast with a soundtrack that fizzes with the spark of Draper art-rock/pop sensibilities. Ultimately, the conclusion is that love is all you need. Something The Beatles pointed out at one stage. “Let there be love at the end of the day” is the parting shot. Perhaps he’s not so cynical after all.

To aid and abet the Draper vision, Cult Leader Tactics features several guest appearances. The omnipotent presence of revered musician and producer Steven Wilson – co-writer and contributor to Omega Man – is very much of the current Wilson/NoMan electronic school of thought, portraying his and Paul’s feelings of isolation during lockdown. Gamaliel ‘Gam’ Rendle Traynor from the Sweat, arranged, engineered and also plays all strings and there’s the 288-person C.L.T. Lockdown Choir who sing on the cool groove of the album closer Lyin’ Bout Who U Sleep With. Around a minute in, if you didn’t know a choir was coming in, it’s something that you’d anticipate.

Before all kicks in, we get a thundering fuzz bass and Space Rock flashes to accompany the rhythmic funk of the curtain-raising title track. The cynical notion of working your way to the top by foul means (rather than fair) seems to have driven Draper into creating an inspired selection that hangs its hat on the “moral free zone” that he namechecks in Dirty Trix which is built on lush Tears For Fears-ish textures while throwing in a ladle full of electronic trix. Let’s see how The Tipping Point compares with this little beauty. But back to the script, the question remains of why follow the rules when there are quicker ways to the top?

And talking of influences, who’d put money on the opening of You’ve Got No Life Skills, Baby coming straight from ZZTop before a seductive melody and sway take hold and we head off with an obvious hint of Andy & Vince/Depeche with a Disco strike out on Everyone Becomes A Problem Eventually. It’s probably doing Draper a disservice to throw in all those names, suffice to say they provide a convenient term of reference before the songs evolve into a life of their own. However, what’s striking is his lifetime in the music business that provides fuel for the lyrical fire.

Any more ponderous diversions – with the swathes of keyboard chords that hang around on a steady rhythm on Annie for example – are a rare diversion from the uptempo visions that drive the album. One that’s stoked by a devilish philosophy, thriving on the satirical direction and delivered with relish. One where Paul Draper fans can finally let go of The Attack Of The Grey Lantern

Here’s Paul with his buddy Steven Wilson doing Omega Man:

Paul Draper online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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