After listening to Head Happy from start to finish about a half-dozen times, it’s even more impressive that McLinden is essentially a one-man band – he writes and sings all of the lyrics, plus plays and mixes all of the instruments on every song in his remarkable and growing discography.
Head Happy offers a wonderful diversity of songs – from hard-rocking romps like “Mr. Boogie” and “Quicksand” (conjures up Iggy Pop), to light, indie pop-driven songs like the title track, “The Way I Feel,” and “Whether The Weather,” as well as the Velvet Underground-sounding “Cheer Up,” and the melancholic and contemplative “Green Eyed Monster.” The only complaint we could possibly muster up is that we wish many songs were longer.
“Mr. Boogie” – Paul McLinden from Head Happy
“Whether The Weather” – Paul McLinden from Head Happy
“Cheer Up” – Paul McLinden from Head Happy
It’s impossible to listen to just a couple of McLinden’s songs and walk away with a truly representative idea of his musical abilities and accomplishments. To that point, we could not release our ears from his Soundcloud page, effectively streaming his entire discography and being thoroughly mesmerized by the wide range of genres, sounds, moods, topics, and ideas expressed through touching lyrics, intriguing compositions, raw rocking romps, breathtaking instrumentations, and his innate skills as an artist.
This journey of discovery of McLinden’s music has been enjoyable and revealing. He delivers time and again on tracks from his latest album and his earlier releases, including songs like the mysterious “Diagnosis,” the riff-heavy “Cheap Trick,” the bluesy cool factor of “Turn It On,” the dreamy instrumental, “If Only That Were True,” the soft summer breeze feel of “I Remember” and “Bad Pennies,” the more upbeat acoustic beauty of “Too Little Too Late,” and the whispery, enchanting harmonies of “Harbour,” which also appears on the soundtrack for the movie Return to Zero.
“Harbour” – Paul McLinden from Foggy City Orphan
“Cheap Trick” – Paul McLinden from This is That
“I Remember” – Paul McLinden from Paul McLinden
“Too Little Too Late” – Paul McLinden from This Is That
The list of great songs that have emerged from McLinden’s Glasgow attic over the past few years goes on and on thanks to album releases like this years’ Head Happy, 2013’s Foggy City Orphan, and 2012’s This is That EP.
McLinden’s precious gift for turning notes into things of sonic beauty also transcends indie rock. In fact, we were simply blown away by his talents for making magic with the piano and other instruments as he did, along with his collaborator Kenny Iglis, in scoring the stunning soundtrack for the BBC documentary, The Bridge: 50 Years Across the Forth.
“The Bridge” – Paul McLinden and Kenny Iglis from The Bridge: 50 Years Across the Forth
After listening to the Bridge soundtrack in its entirety, it’s no surprise that McLinden is a classically trained musician who was also once a member of the prestigious Scottish National Orchestra. The more we dig into his past, the more his resume flowers with accomplishments as a composer, songwriter and musician. He’s done our favorite genres a huge service by turning his talents to crafting and recording simple, three-minute indie pop and rock songs and releasing them for the world to enjoy.
“If Only That Were True” – Paul McLinden from This Is That
It was not much of a surprise to find out that we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed McLinden’s talents. As a matter of fact, just a few weeks ago, his side music project, Mothmatrix, had the track “Ghosts” featured on an episode of CSI.
And with one accomplishment after another under his belt, McLinden’s humility is refreshing, commenting that he relates to “people with a DIY attitude to music who are not dazzled by ideas of fame and fortune,” adding,“I am a man of few words and I prefer to say what I think through my songs.” On his Soundcloud page, McLinden added: “In it for the Monet, not for the money.”
“Whalesong” – Paul McLinden from a single