Nearly five years after releasing his last full-length record, Nick Mulvey is back this week with his first album since 2017's Wake Up Now.
His new record, New Mythology, is out Friday, and in some ways, it seems like another lifetime since that last album. The world is different. The music industry is different. And Mulvey is different.
Chatting with Variance over Zoom ahead of the album's release, the English musician says: "I'm really proud of this one. I feel it's my best work," he notes of the album, which is his third solo album, following the aforementioned Wake Up Now as well as his 2014 debut First Mind, which was adored by critics and also earned the singer a coveted Mercury Prize nomination.
"We need to reimagine our future," says Mulvey of the album title. "I think everyone's really realizing that now, and we need to reimagine our future. And this album is exploring all of this—new stories, new ways of understanding ourselves in the world and how we can forge new connections with ourselves, with the land, with the natural world, with each other. These are all new mythologies to me."
He continues, pointing out how the urgency and the uncertainty of the pandemic influenced the record and his new material overall.
"I've been in tune with what I'm thinking about for a long time and and the changes that are happening in the pandemic and with Covid, we're just accelerating what was already totally underway already," he says.
The ambiguity of these strange times is specifically felt on Mulvey's new song "Brother to You," which is reflective of a personal relationship and the power of reconciliation, something Mulvey came to appreciate after making amends with a loved one. But he has since learned just how relatable the subject was for so many others who perhaps struggled with connection during lockdowns, reevaluating relationships and past decisions.
"This song was about an action I needed to take," says Mulvey. "It's a song I needed to write and and release. It's about speaking truth with friends and with loved ones and setting the record straight—reconciliation. I think it's been really interesting for me, that song, because the early response has been so strong. And I found that nearly everyone has people they love in their past, with whom they need to reconcile.
He adds: "It's been quite healing for me because I think it's something that so many of us suffer through quite individually. We don't realize how commonplace it is to make mistakes and how important it is to offer an apology, to say the words."
Mulvey's passion throughout the new album is so apparent, as he vocalizes with such clarity and conviction. That intensity is on display on "Star Power," in which Mulvey opens with the lyrics, "The time of the lone wolf is done," which he says is a nod to a sense of collective and moral responsibility, something he hopes more people are beginning to acknowledge.
"I don't know if it's the majority, but everybody knows we're living in these times of transformation," he explains. "I think people can feel it and there's a growing understanding that, we've been able to consider ourselves separate from the rest of nature and indeed superior to the rest of nature for many hundreds of years. That's what I use as the metaphor, the lone wolf, just looking after ourselves. And that time is done."
He continues: "We live in a great uncertainty as to what will happen next, but we can't live without being in harmony with the other species. We can't live without bees, the pollinators. We can't live without justice for our fellow humans. Whether it's social justice or climate change, it's about the changes as I see them. The big picture changes."
As of this writing, Mulvey is recovering from a wrist injury which prompted him to cancel a handful of record store performances in the U.K. next week. The decision was certainly a difficult one for a musician who has been eager to get back out into the world and perform, but he is optimistic about the future.
"I have all of this excitement and hunger," he says. "I was forging such a close and strong bond with my audience just before the pandemic, and it has been really hard to have all this time without playing. I am still aiming to really honor as many of the shows as possible."
But fans shouldn't worry, as Mulvey calls New Mythology "just the beginning" of a new era of his career.
"We're building up now and it's gonna be a wild journey," he teases. "It's gonna be exciting. I'll be touring this summer with the album and then I'm touring in the autumn over to the States. I'm going to the States in July and then I'm supposed to be coming back again. I'm ready and excited."■