A good few years ago now I went to see the Blue Aeroplanes in Glasgow. Supporting the Bristolian veterans that night were a sparky indie-pop band from
the States Canada, Catlow.
It turned out that the four piece were essentially the solo project of former Dirtmitt Natasha Thirsk, who had the unusual distinction of playing that show with one leg encased in a plaster cast.
On the back of an impressive performance that night I purchased the Catlow LP ‘Kiss The World’. It’s a fine collection of songs with nice guitars and a contemporary electronic feel. In subsequent years it’s a record that I’ve periodically returned but, increasingly as time marched on, each time it also posed the question of ‘Whatever happened to Catlow?’
That question was finally answered earlier in the month with the release of an 8 track EP ‘Pinkly Things’, which I eagerly snapped up a few days ago.
The first couple of listens suggested that, despite the intervening years, it’s a record which is a continuation what went before. So there’s a strong, melodic indie feel to the tunes which brings Belly to mind for me. That comparison isn’t hurt by the fact that Natasha’s sweet and innocent vocals are reminiscent of Tanya Donelly.
But subsequent listens reveal that ‘Pinkly Things’ covers far more bases than the slightly spiky guitars of the debut.
‘Pinkly Things’ undoubtedly leans to some extent on the first record whether it be the perky guitar pop of songs like opener ‘House Arrest’ or the brilliant ‘Shinsy’. ‘Run To Me’ meanwhile echoes the electronic feel of some of the debut.
But there’s much more variety on this record. The title track, which brings the record to a close, is the longest song that Catlow have done so far, its shimmering guitars bringing to mind none other than Lush.
The biggest change in Catlow’s approach is that overall there’s a more obvious pop emphasis to the tunes. ‘Remorse Code’ may start out with guitars but they give over the lead to an unashamedly mainstream electro-pop rhythm. ‘Wallflower’ explores similar territory to an almost trip-hop rhythm.
Jewel in the crown though is the magnificent ‘Stars Will Guide’ where guitars and keyboards mesh to produce a great tune with all sorts of counter melodies dotted through the song.
8 track EPs or mini-LPs are quite unusual these days and my fear before hearing the record was that it might just be a taster for the full length album to follow padded out with out-takes from that record.
‘Pinkly Things’ may in fact turn out to be be a taster for the next record but there’s nothing sub standard about the rest of its material. Indeed, the addition of another two or three songs would have made this a cracking full length long player every bit the equal of the debut.
The prospect though that this might be just an entree for a full album is extremely enticing.
A little gem which sparkles in many different ways. Enjoy.
Get the album in the usual download stores or from the band’s Bandcamp.