Second album in a year from pop polymath and king of the ear-worm Heiko Schneider, outdoing Morrissey for creative song titling.
I’m holding TheCatherines partially responsible for the increasingly disconcerting feeling that my life is gradually speeding up. Either that or I just have to accept that Heiko Schneider’s artistic bounty is overflowing with so many great songs that we are in a 60s flashback situation where bands routinely gave fans two albums a year… Of course the problem then was that the concept of ‘filler’ was invented just so bands could keep up with the pressure.
So far it seems Heiko hasn’t received the memo and on current evidence is having no problem producing ‘all killer-no filler’ bundles of musical joy, of which the wryly titled Sink into Oblivion is the latest gratefully received instalment.
Seriously there’s a particular craft involved in making music that gets a smile on your face this quickly whilst also putting your ears and brain on maximum alert just to pick up the sheer amount of detail and deadpan humour crammed into the average ( no such thing of course) Catherines song.
I once wrote a song about my inability to understand how there are people who stride the world with seemingly little doubt in their abilities, as befitting a twenty-something male it made a meal from leftover teen-angst. Heiko’s response to the same head-scratcher leaves mine in the dust by some margin.
As an introduction You Never Have Any Self Doubts Do You? works it’s own magic right from the sly wink of it’s faux technical malfunction intro, which yes did catch me out for a split second. The melody is back, as is the rush of joy you get from the perfect emotional mix of levity and seriousness. Whilst far less cynical than Messrs Fagin and Becker there is a commonality in the shared ability to seemingly acknowledge the obvious downsides of life while cocking a snook (sorry that’s a very Brit specific reference, as they say, google it)at the futility of it all. I don’t know about you, but it creates a very welcoming place to kick back, unburden yourself of just a modicum of your stresses and strains, safe if the knowledge you aren’t alone on this. It’s a skill to savour.
Also, how can you resist a song driven along by what sounds like a home-made xylophone?
And I love the final diagnosis: ‘It is pathological and can’t be cured’
You only have to take a look at Heiko’s Instagram feed to know that he’s a connoisseur of music from the little nooks and crannies of the past and present. However he doesn’t seem to be either a dilettante or hipster poseur but just a lover of music, pure and simple. So when you hear that Sink Into Oblivion has a distinctly 80s slant, you can rest assured it’s emphatically not the tired pastiche work that litters the modern musical landscape, but rather a loving use of stylistic detail.
Take Lift Me Up To Your Eye Level, gorgeous jangle, big drums, a knowing Schopenhauer name-drop, all adding up to vintage, Commotions style Scottish pop, done with such warmth and love that you will struggle not to swoon.
Actually on second thoughts maybe the blissed-out groove of You’ve Got it all Wrong is even more swoon-some? Hard to measure scientifically so you will need to decide for yourself.
Kid P chases the sun even harder and is more golden yacht than 80s after-burn, coming on like an instrumental hors d’oeuvre that could comfortably segue into a languid Chris Rea gem like On the Beach. If you’re rolling your eyes at this point then our friendship may be on rocky ground…
And then, She Left Without Saying Goodbye is bedroom chamber-pop in excelsis, a little clockwork miniature of gorgeousness that wouldn’t seem out of place tucked away on a Jellyfish album.
I’m always wary of highlighting certain tracks as it can give the impression others are somehow less worthy of mention, then I realise I’ve not tipped you off re the glorious Sappy Together or the day-glow chug of hit single in waiting Let’s Write the Book of Love, so easy to picture it’s airwaves dominating existence back in the day when such a thing was possible.
You may have twigged this is a record resting on fine detail, from the Monochrome Set referencing cover, the many knowing lyrical winks sprinkled throughout, to musical highlights such as Hannah’s flute, Heiko’s carefully deployed 12 string guitar and the rolling piano.
Yes, it’s that music crit cliche, ‘an embarrassment of riches’, how often can you honestly say that?
Oh, and it’s also on a lovely looking cd… just as it should be in my retro uncool world.