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Mothlite: Dark Age

Candid, catholic creation from angsty all-rounder.

Daniel O’Sullivan’s second album as Mothlite is dark and earnest but full of vital energies, like the music that influenced him – from Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love to Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair. Yet its skittering rhythms and washes of synth mean it’s a highly contemporary trip into the heart of angst, leavened by resignation and a sense of absurdity.

‘The poison is the cure, it’s lethal to ignore/Are you happy or indestructibly empty?’ he sings on an album with grand pop hooks and textural shifts, but blatantly inspired by personal relationship turmoil.

Having collaborated with Ulver, Aethenor, Grumbling Fur and Miracle, O’Sullivan makes no bones about this being his own confessional catharsis. The gothic (small ‘g’) misery is evident on Wounded Lions or Milk, but spiralling self-indulgence is countered by the swinging sashays of Seeing In The Dark and Something In The Sky, the latter meaty yet sinister like Peter Gabriel’s Intruder.

The rhythms may be over-dominant in spells, but the title track’s marriage of Moroder and Depeche Mode exudes modernist soul. The artist himself refers to Mothlite as his ‘albatross’, but with a wingspan this wide it flies freely.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.