The last time an indie frontman shacked up with an opera singer, Shaun Ryder bellowed ‘Baaaaaarcelona’ alongside a bemused Russell Watson.
While the proceeds may have kept Ryder in booze and new gnashers for a couple of years, it did nothing to suggest that the two genres should ever unite again. Thankfully Faris Badwan, the perpetually black-clad frontman of The Horrors, was too busy sharpening his eyeliner to take notice and has joined forces with classically trained soprano and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Zeffira nonetheless.
And thank Christ he did. Under their Cat’s Eyes guise they have released one of the most unexpectedly gorgeous albums of the year. Their eponymous debut offering works so well because it isn’t a mash-up of two ill-fitting styles, both fighting for dominance. Instead, it takes Badwan’s pop sensibilities and love of obscure psych acts and entwines it with Zeffira’s orchestral and cinematic offerings to produce lush, swooning soundscapes.
Cat’s Eyes completely confounds expectations and while it may not be taking music in a radical new direction, the end result is astounding. You need to hear this.
There are traces of Nick Cave, My Bloody Valentine and Mazzy Star throughout the album, but it’s all held together with infectious, if understated melodies, more akin to early sixties girl groups. 'The Best Person I Know' is a glorious, hazy duet, with plenty of reverb and crackling. It’s like listening to a long lost art-house filmscore on battered vinyl.
As good as it is, it’s immediately blown out of the water by 'I’m Not Stupid' where Zeffira’s gentle musings are kept afloat by soaring and swooshing backing vocals and dreamy orchestration. ‘I know I’m not a pretty girl, I’m realistic’, she sings before adding ‘I can see she’s better than me’. For a sad song, its utterly beautiful tune means you can’t help but grin.
'Faces In The Crowd' prove they can do lively too; It’s a bass heavy rumble where Badwan takes over singing duties while penultimate track, the retro-cool 'The Lull' combines Motown brashness with layer upon layer of sultry vocals to provide a tune so addictive you’d swear it had been around since 1965. Cat’s Eyes completely confounds expectations and while it may not be taking music in a radical new direction, preferring instead to fuse together some of the finest styles of the past 50 years, the end result is astounding. You need to hear this.
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