It’s the simple pleasures that get you through, unless I guess your taste extends to caviar and gold encrusted palaces… but then our target audience here probably doesn’t include Russian presidents and the global mega rich.
Not that TheCatherines music is simple per se, I’m just talking about the joy brought by a perfectly formed album, pressed lovingly on to a cd (and cassette) and housed in a beautifully designed cover clearly created with much love and care.
As I’m sure you will agree, we should never take these things for granted in this ever shifting corporate, cookie-cutter world.
Drenched is a record of sunlight and warmth that sprouts (see what I did there?) bittersweet joy from every luscious note, to listen is like wrapping yourself in your favourite blanket (doesn’t everyone have one?) and shutting out the world for thirty minutes.
First, rewind back to that cover, a ridiculously beautiful photo by Uwe Jonasson of an Italian beach scene (Imperia in Liguria), take in the perfect type face and soak up the contrast between the colour of the umbrellas, doors and logo. I know zero about design, but who cares, as someone once said, ‘I know what I like when I see it’.
It’s not easy to make music that flirts with happiness but isn’t cloying, TheCatherines (actually one man, Heiko Schneider, plus Sandra Ost on bvs) can do it and so allow us the gift of some precious reassurance in this age of perpetual anxiety. There are moments here that take you back to the ecstasy found at the height of seventies AM pop, for evidence check out Oh, Oh, I Told You We Were Going to Get Stuck in the Stop and Go, I swear I hear hints of Oh Lori by the Alessi brothers, or Silly Love Songs by Wings, in its plangent rush.
Just listen to that guitar and synth intro drawing us into the fantastically titled Right Now You Are Really No Help (and oh haven’t we all felt like saying that at multiple times in our lives?), if it doesn’t raise a smile you are probably visiting the wrong blog, just love those unresolved chords at the end as well.
I’ll level with you, I did raise an eyebrow or two at a title as arch as, The Sun is Gonna Wear the Hotpants, but as a song it unfolds with such playful sweetness that resistance is rendered futile.
There is a generosity of spirit here that can’t fail to bathe you in its golden glow, yes there’s a definite early to mid period Prefab Sprout twist in evidence, almost a jingle jangle, bedroom pop Steely Dan minus the more lacerating lyrical barbs, I could almost imagine Donald Fagen taking a guest spot on fatalistic opener, It All Goes Down from Here My Dear.
Final track, Just Like to Be Near to Me pulls the carpet from under you, stretching out over eight and a half engrossing minutes, insidious, groovy bass, almost psychedelic sound affects and fragments of female vocals (can you believe there’s a Karen Carpenter sample, how perfect is that? The clue is in the title) edge towards some kind of indie dub effect. I think the kids once called something this good, ‘a total blast’ and far be it for me to differ.
Look, I bought this record with my own hard earned money, during a particularly fraught WFH episode it was responsible for saving my laptop exiting the building via the kitchen window. Now, as an alternative to Game Stop shares or Bitcoin I’d say that marks a pretty good return on my investment.
So, my unqualified advice? Purchase in haste, enjoy at leisure.