Martin Mull Patrick Snyder-Scumpy - Essay

Patrick Snyder-Scumpy

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Martin Mull's] songs are a glossy and smoothly subtle blend of many influences shaped and channeled by a unique and whimsically droll point of view. Some of the songs are hymns in praise of such mundane subjects as eggs and Miami ("The only fish around are Nova Scotia lox") but mostly simply tell stories, exploring the narrow but fascinating range of ramifications spreading out from the dropping of an often tiny pebble of aberration into the placid waters of the American norm: a lover learns ventriloquism, a middleclass maiden loses her ring finger to a washing machine, a man marries a midget, a freak turns to booze and a classified ad for girls "to live in dreams" spirals into a flapper bachannal whose dionysian Dixieland rhythms bring to mind those jungle swing cartoons in which vaguely negroid monkeys kept the beat with coconuts on each other's heads. His lyrics are feasts for semantic sado-masochists addicted to punishment; he tries harder so it hertz. Even his alliterative name shimmers with a score of tempting, awful puns (Mulls it over, Mullti-talented, and, when he's playing the blues, Martin Mullatto) but the album's are better. (p. 45)

Mull's music runs directly and consciously counter to the half-decade old tendency of rock to examine life in terms of mass psychic migrations or as immeasurably profound pirouettes in Shiva's cosmic choreography….

Mull thus places himself firmly among a group of artists...

(The entire section is 547 words.)