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Malojian - The Broken Deer EP

Alternative folk act Cat Malojian split last year after two sensational albums over the last few years, both of which were thoroughly praised on these pages.

Before the dust settled on the band's demise, songwriter Stevie Scullion began working on solo material, with his debut EP having just been released through Belfast label Public Sector Records.

To keep the link with his old group, Scullion is operating under the name Malojian. Listening to his latest work, it's a savvy move as the music continues in the same folky vein as Cat Malojian, albeit with a more mainstream, poppy edge.

Having said that, retaining the Malojian name could yet prove problematic. Dermot O'Leary's mangled pronunciation on Radio 2 last week would certainly seem to suggest so.

Naming issues aside, the music is as classy as ever. Scullion's expertise is already well-documented, with Hot Press magazine going so far as to consider him ' the North’s best songwriter over the last half decade.'

I'd go further and drop 'the North' from that sentence. The Broken Deer EP, along with recent demos shared online, confirms Scullion is up there with anyone else in the UK or Ireland today.

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The EP has the feel of a complete mini-album with the four tracks (two upbeat, two down) sharing a lyrical theme of love lost, almost lost and the traumatic effect love in general can have on a person.

Even the two-minute long All I Need, instrumental apart from its three-line lyric in the middle - 'Simple life for me/ It's all I need/ It's all I need' - seems to hint at some emotional ordeal.

Unfair as it is to pick a highlight when all four tracks are so strong, Julie-Anne would happily sit on any celebrated alternative band's album. Think Pixies, Teenage Fanclub or Oasis when they were good.

I Often Wonder calls to mind Super Furry Animals at their more conventional, while EP closer What Will I Be is classic folk; acoustic guitar combines with strings in a catchy Neil Young-esque package that finishes proceedings nicely.

Can't wait for the album.

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