Kicking off his forthcoming EP with Billy-Idol era glimmering guitar and a wickedly accurate interpretation of a stage setup from the Reagan years, Michael P Cullen is certainly playing towards fond memories. On “Believer,” Cullen’s live single and accompanying video, the proof is already in the title. Cullen urges folks to get the impression that he may have been a presence in the late 80’s post-glam rebellion. To his credit, Cullen does an excellent job playing the part, replete with an audience that seems absolutely astounded.
“Believer” sees Cullen come right out of the gates as a supposed legacy act turned modern contemporary artists. Granted, it may not be the singer-songwriter’s intent to further the act past perhaps dressing for the part, but it is nonetheless a convincing appeal. No matter the case, the crowd is as exuberant as if they did indeed burn through Cullen’s cassettes fawning over him some 30-odd years ago.
There’s a dull theological edge to “Believer,” though perhaps not as explicit as the themes beloved of the stadium raiders before Cullen. Through this, the single does not become gospel-lite, but somewhat wholesome. The entire experience makes for an entertaining dichotomy between lyrical projection and the audio of the incredibly bemused crowd.
Cullen’s single may simply be asking the charged audience to believe in his new direction and any forthcoming work – a humbled request. In any case, his ability to metamorphose to some sort of generational-spanning music is impressive more than it is gimmicky. “Believe” is an utterly convincing live single for the rest of Cullen’s work to build upon Whatever Cullen may have planned next will assuredly be a crowd-pleaser.