There’s a line of thought – which I’ll admit I do personally subscribe to – that it’s possible to produce such a vast quantity of material that the weaker stuff will be more than countered by the quality work, and thus in the eyes of the public, iron out a patchy career. It’s worked for Dylan, The Fall, David Bowie... and in the literary world, Charles Bukowski makes for a worthy and also relevant example where Mark Wynn’s concerned. A singer, songwriter, musician and poet, his latest release, like its predecessor, ‘First takes, mistakes and a selection of exercises in being a bit shit’, is accompanied by a scribbly photocopied A5 zine of poetry/lyrics and doodles.
The material contained on the CD is in many ways similar: rough, sketchy, off the cuff and underproduced. Musically, ‘“James Dean Makes Me Insecure Why Does He Have to be So Shexy” The Album’ takes a step into quirky lo-fi indie pop territory, with a distinctly ramshackle garage feel. Despite first appearances, the truth is that Mark’s actually a very able blues and folk guitarist and a pretty decent lyricist too when he puts his mind to it. He’s just taking a break from being bothered right now, concentrating on quantity instead of quality in the hope that some rough diamonds will emerge... right?
Well, yes and no. ‘James Dean’ is something of a double bluff, because even when he’s not trying, he can’t help but flick out some deft guitarlines and nifty picking, and the tossed-off-in-five-minutes, forget rhyme and scansion lyrics are genius in their simplicity, and contain not only some great one-liners and couplets, but some clever and concise narratives.
Any suggestion that he’s going for the lowest common denominator market can also be dismissed: as tracks with titles like ‘Henry Miller Filler Song’ imply, he’s got more culture in his unwashed socks than any of your vapid X Factor drongos.
‘Intro’ (appropriately) introduces the album with a howl of feedback and Mark’s voice echoes in a cavern of fuzz and reverb amidst a scuzzed out garage racket before ‘Baby, Baby’, a simple and charming acoustic number that features some crazy guitar work doodling in the background like another song bleeding through the recording.
Elsewhere, ‘Is This Where We Get Off?’ builds to a searing guitar explosion, and it goes from off the cuff to off the wall as ‘Cadillac Shoes (Overeat and Sleep)’ finds Wynn arguing with his belly while hungover before stringing song titles together to create a narrative of sorts to amusing effect over a skiffly guitar.
Idle ponderances over Everyday occurrences of little to no real consequence are the fodder for Wynn’s anti-poetry: ‘Woolies Please’ begins as blank poetry delivered in a monotone over a sonic backdrop that could have been lifted from The Fall’s ‘Grotesque’ before mutating into a half-sung list of wants and lamenting the absence of Woolworths (either that or he’s singing about jumpers, which is equally feasible).
Mark Wynn Online