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Pony Club | Family Business (Setanta)
Quietly observing life from behind the curtains, Mark Cullen is the Morrissey-endorsed Pony Club. 'Family Business' - recorded in his childhood bedroom back in Dublin, following the collapse of previous record deals and a debt-ridden spell in London - is his second long-player. Pre-occupied with his current situation sharing the same four walls with parents and a new wife, Cullen wraps quirky toe-tapping tunes around ever-knowing lyrics, like the Divine Comedy performing cabaret in gutters for loose-change, or Jarvis Cocker scripting seedy day-time soap operas.
Yet, the limitations of this solitary confinement also appears to be his inspiration. Cullen here turns a tatty PC into a minor orchestra, with words penned from a diary of domestic disobedience. It's good on the Boys Keep Swinging-like pilfer of Buried In The Suburbs, better still with the "when you come through that front-door, nothing hurts me any more" flowing lines of closer Shocks, and even touching great on the direct household unrest of From Bed To Work. They say home is where the heart is. With 'Family Business', home is where the hurt is. But so eloquently so.

Ian Fletcher
March-April 2004