Malojian, sans Cat, packs emotional masochism, lost love and simple beauty into his solo EP
When Cat Malojian, formed by singer and guitarist Stevie Scullion and banjo player and keyboardist Jonny Toman, split in 2011 there was sadness amongst those who believed Northern Ireland had lost one of their brightest musical hopes. The band, whose sound was a dreamy blend of folk, ‘Americana’ and pop, seemed on the verge of moving onto bigger pastures only rarely grazed on by local acts.
It wasn't to be. Scullion, now trading under Malojian, recorded the Broken Deer EP in September 2011 (together with band The Glue). They spent five days at the Start Together Studios in Belfast, with Barret Lahey (Pat Dam Smyth, Girls Names) in the producer chair.
Opener ‘I Often Wonder’ begins with a hard-hitting, steady drum beat underpinning a lyric of confusion in life which soon twists into an chorus of emotional masochism – ‘Pull me in, put me down, lift me up and push me ’round. Wipe the smile from my face, disappear without a trace’ – up there with Ryan Adam’s classic ‘Come Pick Me Up’. All this set to a tune so catchy that you’ll end up humming along to even the discordant guitar breakdown, tape loop and banjo picking before the chorus returns for a victory lap.
In contrast, ‘All I Need’ is the musical equivalent of lazing contented in the shade of a tree on a sunny morning. The song’s finger picked guitar notes and understated strings bring to mind Nick Drake at his finest. It says a lot about the talent of Scullion, and the strength of this simple, beautiful song (its sole lyric is ‘Simple life for me, is all I need.’) that it stands the comparison.
Next up is ‘Julie-Anne’, a song that Noel Gallagher would’ve killed to have had on his recent solo debut. It’s a tale of lost love set to an addictively upbeat tune. In a perfect pop world this would be the soundtrack to everyone’s spring and summer. As it is, it warms the cockles during these dregs of winter.
EP closer ‘What Will I Be’ is the weary dawn breaking after an all-night drinking session spent mourning the loss of love. To a delicate guitar figure, Scullion confesses in a broken whisper that ‘I thought you such a woman. Beauty so true,’ before asking: ‘What will I be without you?’
So there you go. Four songs: two sing-a-longs and two heartbreakers, wonderfully played and sung, with lyrics to hold close and claim as your own. What more could you want from an EP?