A few months ago, after a long period of silence and musical inactivity, Facebook page of English band Cubanate started posting news of a one-off reunion on Coldwaves festival in Chicago, as well as Marc Heal’s pictures of his music equipment and the announcement that he was starting work on new solo material. It took less than 2 months from the announcement for the first single, “Adult Fiction”, to appear, and just a short time after that “The Hum”, the full length album, was finished.
Although this album has very little in common with his previous work with Cubanate, the end result is very well rounded and good listening experience. It still has very distinguishable industrial base with alternative rock overlay that a lot of listeners might associate with recent Garry Numan releases. The lyrics of most of the songs are about various aspects of decay and entropy in a highly urban environment. Armed with wisdom of age, Heal uses easily understandable and direct lyrics to paint pictures of bleak people in bleak world with bleak outlook. Mostly he doesn’t get involved, but serves as a modern day jester who points out obvious truths that are usually invisible to subjects of his songs.
There are two exceptions, the opening song “Tiananmen”, probably dedicated to anti-establishment rebels, and “Monoxide” at the end of the album that sounds like a song about people who do not fall into any standard category. It is worth noting that these are also the two most Cubanatesque songs on the album. After “Tiananmen” the pace quickly slows down with “Katerina’s House”, an atmospheric, slow song dealing with loss and hopelessness of a woman who, apparently, at some point had all she had hoped for. “Adult Fiction” follows, a song about world outlook of an unhappy woman who, at least from the outside, has it all. Together with “Monoxide”, “Adult Fiction” is the most fluid song on the album and a perfect choice for release as a single. The following two songs, “Model Citizen” and “Show Homes for Luxury Living”, represent my favourite section of album. Both songs deal with the paradox of modern life, pointing out just how much humanity one needs to relinquish to fit into perception of modern life. “Model Citizen” enumerates all the items that the media and society present us as norms for a model member of society, while “Show Homes for Luxury Living” deals with alienation of people form their living environment. “The Abandoned Junkshop” is another slow and slightly droning song focused on urban abandonment and the places that become almost invisible once they lose its purpose.
Throughout this album Heal offers very little or no sympathy to its subject matter, and this brings us to “Wounded Dog”, one of the two songs in which he shows affection, in this case towards a dying dog to whom he gives some comfort and company in his final moments. “Johnny Was An Oilman” deals with influence of people behind the curtain of life of ordinary people. It is followed by the previously mentioned “Monoxide”, the most danceable song on the album. The album closes with “Faithful Machinery”, Heal’s ode to his instruments that has a strong English football song feel to it, along with some kind of pride about him and his companions in this endeavour.
All in all, this is a really good album in both musical and lyrical sense. Years were very good to Marc Heal and hopefully he’ll have something more to say in the future.