Man-boy Mark Owen is back, in a not-quite-as-camp-as-Kylie way. Get a blanket and bundle him into your homes or who knows what will happen to him.
Just like the hurt badger you see once a month shuffling out of your garden hedge, Mark Owen hasn’t died an overdue death, neither has he made a healthy recovery. He is still limping along making the best of life and this third album is the evidence.
You don’t have to know How The Mighty Fall was penned through a period of soul searching and personal doubt to hear its vulnerability. His shaky trait voice is raw and his wince-worthy speech impediment stands out stronger than any of the tracks.
That said, it’s exactly these factors that give his inoffensive pop an edge. “Give yourself a chance/Not a nosebleed,” the munchkin sings on opener They Do. It’s the first lyric and piano line he wrote for the album and perhaps we should give him a chance, for there isn’t a nurse gentle enough on the NHS to mop up his blood.
Gentle guitar and piano make up this likeable ditty which paves the way for a host of pretty tracks. They’re not as off the wall as previous Green Man spectacles, but there is evidence of Owen trying to make something different.
Makin’ Out and Waiting For The Girl attempt Badly Drawn Boy eccentricities, but whether he has the confidence to pull it off – on the album, let alone live – is debatable. Believe In The Boogie is an upbeat optimistic ditty, endearing in its gentle bizarre qualities.
However 3:15 lets the album down and proves there’s room for Geri Halliwell moments in every ex-manufactured star. Hail Mary follows on from where 3:15 leaves off, just killing him slower. Wasting Away has a feeling of the twilight peculiar and is an effort to move away from the more comfortable. But just before you give it all up for lost, Come On with its guitar glory saves face.
Mark Owen has acknowledged the irony in the title How the Mighty Fall but even that little gesture makes you flinch like a slug with a lemon. It’s car crash stuff, but mightily worth the look.