False Positive: False Positive

False Positive: False Positive
Justin Mikulka is prolific in the Albany, NY music scene which is a little like being prolific in the Frankfort, KY table tennis scene. Sure Albany is the capital of New York, but it is certainly not known for its music scene. Mikulka has been single-handedly trying to change this with his band Cathode Bob, his solo project, his label One Mad Son, and his latest project, False Positive. On False Positive’s self-titled debut, Mikulka employees a myriad of Albany-area musicians to back him.
The thing that is amazing about Mikulka is that everything I have read about him makes him seem like a major figure in Albany music yet False Positive really does not show any reason why. Mikulka is not a very good singer. I understand that part of his asthetic is his off kilter voice, kind of like Beck on Mellow Gold. But there are plenty of times on the self-titled album that it just sounds downright bad. “Please Don’t Shoot” is probably the longest two-and-a-half minutes you will ever have to sit through. The unbearably vocal performance is only enhanced by the slow, plodding pace of the song.
As False Positive shows on other parts of the album, when they pick up the pace the vocal transgressions can be overlooked. The album’s opening track “Hasty Martyrs Sing Fantastic” is not a blazing punk song or anything but its pace is such that you can ignore poor vocals. There is something else that “Hasty Martyrs Sing Fantastic” has and that is a strong pop sensibility. It is obvious throughout the album that Mikulka can write a pretty decent pop song but it is how he executes these pop songs that is questionable. On “Hasty Martyrs” he employs lo-fi production quality to make all the instruments fade into a distorted blur behind the vocals. On “Teaching Sorrows” he uses off-key backing vocals to create disequilibrium for the listener.
The entire album’s purpose is to create disequilibrium it seems. I am a fan of pop music though and this type of muddying up pop music just to muddy it up seems superfluous to me. It is as if Mikulka does not trust his songwriting ability to let it stand on his own so he must self-sabotage so that if people say they don’t like it it can be blamed on something other than him. The sad thing is is that the songs appear to be well written just too much is piled on top of them to let them be good.
Rating: 3.6/10
MP3: False Positive “Hasty Martyrs Sing Fantastic”
Buy: iTunes

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