Before you’ve even heard a note of The Catherines music you can almost imagine what you’re in for. The monotone covers displaying a young Catherine Deneuve explain the band-name, and their overall look evokes classic albums of Belle & Sebastian, The Smiths, etc. Song titles like “Is Your Bigmouth Girlfriend Really So Charming” sound like they were pulled from the Morrissey playbook. Heiko Schneider, the man behind The Catherines moniker, is clearly a student of indie pop history and ones that’s aced his exams.
After growing increasingly frustrated with other musical endeavours Schneider started The Catherines as a studio project with the simple goal of writing and recording a song within the span of one evening. That may not have always gone to plan, but armed with a guitar, a computer, wine and some cigarettes The Catherines were born. He began releasing the fruits of his labor on Bandcamp last year and for his self titled debut The Catherines joined Lo-Fi Spanish label Mondo Canape Records.
The album bursts open with “I Just Want to Lie Here and Listen to Our Heartbeat” which alternates between saccharine strings accents and brutal distorted guitar. The effect is somewhere between Guided by Voices and Teenage Fanclub.
“Good Golly Goo-I Never Thought I’d Love Someone as Much As You” is next up, and one of the album’s singles. This highlight is a no-frills straight up indie pop song with 60s style harmonies and zig-zagging guitar melodies that wouldn’t sound out of place in any era you played it. The Catherines dip into a fuzz soaked Jesus & Mary Chain groove on “You Say You’re Sorry But I Know You Aren’t” before retreating back into midtempo jangle pop territory on the fantastic “Let’s Kiss Goodnight in the Morning”. The Catherines pick up the pace again for the next two tracks “If You Knew What’s Behind Her Smile You Wouldn’t Want to Make Her Happy” and “May I Say I Love You or Will You Faint?”, the later being a lounge fake out that introduces some deliciously dirty garage rock. Schneider manages to always keeps the arrangements interesting to prevent his now familiar formula from ever becoming stale. “Which Way Will Lead Me to You My Dear” wraps up the album with its slow burning psych-rock and before you know it the album is over at just 25min leaving you feeling it’s half finished. Luckily if The Catherines‘ debut leaves you wanting more, the bands Bandcamp page has plenty of non-album singles to make up for it.
The Catherines aren’t breaking any new ground, but that was never the point for Heiko Scheider. Instead, The Catherines debut is a love letter to the favourite bands of Schneider’s youth. Each of these songs are fun, charming and the lyrics are often sweet and amusing. If you’ve got a soft spot for nostalgia and melodic indie pop you’ll find The Catherines an endearing listen.
Highlights: “I Just Want to Lie Here and Listen to Our Heartbeat”, “Good Golly Goo”, “Lets Kiss Goodnight in the Morning”For Fans of: Veronica Falls, Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls, classic twee pop