Soulful pop experimentalism...

From the beginning Bradley Mullins (AKA Brad Stank) has been very open about the fact that his sultry bedroom pop is about more than just taking it easy. 2017’s debut single, ‘Flirting In Space’, was the ideal introduction to his laid-back but erudite song-writing. Fast-forward three years to today, however, and Brad Stank is about to release his debut album, 'Kinky Om'. But what’s clear is that his music has become a vehicle for something more than just mere shades of light and dark.

'Kinky Om' is an ambitious album for a number of reasons, not least of which because of the amount of influences Stank has managed to fit into around half an hour. The first three tracks alone are like an insight into the taste of Brad Stank – from the soaring indie pop of ‘Kinky Visitation,’ to elegant bossa nova of ‘Sat On The Moon,’ and then finally to the irresistibly catchy ‘Breathing Like A Baby’ featuring US rapper, Ryshon Jones.

In much the same way that this album is a reflection of Stank’s musical predilictions, 'Kinky Om' is representative of his tumultuous 2019. Mourning the tragic loss of Her’s last year – with whom Stank played with at university – as well the suicide of a college friend and a break-up over the course of 12 months is enough to test anyone. But Stank has used his music as a guide to navigate his way through his difficulties.

Following the Marvin Gaye inspired ‘Stanky Om’ with the profoundly touching ‘Ah Hum’ is just one way of understanding the assortment of contrasting emotions Stank has had to process in such a short amount of time. “The past year has been tough,” Stank admits, “but I wanted to come out of the other side with something beautiful. This album is definitely a bit sadder and maybe moodier than Eternal Slowdown, but it’s simply my heart on a plate.”

The spirituality of Eastern philosophies is what has ultimately been the key guide for Stank as he has navigated the last year, and it is an unavoidable facet of the album. I mean, with a title like 'Kinky Om', it’s pretty difficult to miss – ‘om’ being the symbol of ultimate reality in a lot of Eastern religions.

Stank alludes to Buddhism’s emphasis on the acceptance of thought and being present throughout the album, but it’s Ryshon Jones’ opening lines to ‘Breathing Like A Baby’ that are the keystone of the LP. “The centre is the place,” Jones prophesises on a track where his lyrics stay with you about as long as that unbelievably catchy riff. The result is an album that is immeasurably cathartic to listen to. You’re forced to confront some pretty dark emotions, but in way that is quintessentially healthy.

Brad Stank has come a long way in three years. Life has happened to him in a way he couldn’t have predicted but his ability to reflect that in his songwriting has kept pace. With that in mind, 'Kinky Om' is, therefore, more than just a 30-minute bedroom pop album. Instead, Stank offers a meditation on themes that are wholly universal as he attempts to address and understand his own personal acceptance and recovery.

8/10

Words: Ben Miles

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