If you’ve never had a precursor to 27-year-old Australian singer Kirin J. Callinan, you’re likely to be very taken aback by his debut full-length Embracism. If you aren’t into anything off the beaten path, stop reading now. This album will never be for you, and his cross-dressing and flashy live performances won’t change your mind either.
There’s a lot packed into this ten-song piece. The title track “Embracism” asks its listeners—in a hoarse and rather frightening voice—to think about the types of impressions they make and what it takes to make said impressions: “Do you measure up? / Or do you still have work to do?” And while this track asks very important questions, the song itself is a hodgepodge of everything: some guitar, some new-wave sounds, and an impressive range of vocals.
Sometimes the album is slow and quiet, like in the six-plus minute song “Chardonnay Sean,” where the song probably could have ended about a minute earlier than it did, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up. But every song features Kirin J. Callinan’s dramatic voice, from deep lows (like in “Way II War”) to high-pitched squeals (listen to “Victoria M.”) to raspy (“Come on USA”—a song questioning Americans), plus other more inexplicable sounds.
Embracism is not an album to recommend to anyone other than people who are interested in experimental music. There are rarely any beats, there’s little consistency, and it’s outlandish. Props to Mr. Callinan for making such an album, but still—yikes.