Thursday, 23 October 2008

ALBUM REVIEW: Catfish Haven - Devastator

Ambivalence - it‘s what every musician dreads. There’s surely no more spirit-sapping feeling than having done absolutely nowt to invoke even a modicum of emotion in the perked-up ear sockets of the listening hoards. For sure The Kooks, The Enemy, Pigeon Detectives et al may knee-jerk bowels into the dispatch position but, Christ, at least they’re stirring something deep within; reaffirming music’s ability to unite and segment, engage and enrage, love and detest. To merely stick public opinion in neutral is, quite frankly, unforgivable and instantly forgettable.

Fast forward to the point…

As all budding, ethic-abiding journalists will testify, if you don’t know your subject you’d better swot-up. So, once Secretly Canadian-signed Catfish Haven’s second long-player Devastator plumped it’s spherically shaped self into my stereo I thought it pertinent to crack off a web-based search on this seemingly unknown Chicago trio. But after traipsing through a number of brief round-ups I touched upon something bafflingly familiar: a short critique of the band’s debut record Tell Me typed out by these very fingers.

Sardine-tinned with vertebrate metaphors and overly verbose linguistics, it reads every inch a tooth-cutting whipper-snapper’s puff piece that says little and means even less. But in those few words I can gauge at least one thing: Man, was I bored. Really fucking bored. And sadly, Catfish Haven’s latest venture into fully-fledged album churning is just as stagnant as its predecessor - if not more so.

Bland, sterile, airwave-filling, humdrum, tedious: each one a clinical adjective to be attributed to the dreary cuts caught skulking here. If you’re sceptical of such knife-sharpened evaluations, I implore you to wrap your lugholes around the album’s opening number ‘Are You Ready’ without clutching fruitlessly for the nearest wrap of Kenco-laced amphetamine. Laden with dispassionate pseudo-soul stumblings and Ribena weak lyrics, it sets an un-arousing precedent for the 40 minutes of half-baked Commitments-aping to come.

Thing is, hating this record on face value is nigh-on impossible. Tracks like the all-jangling ‘Set In Stone’ or the romper-rhythmic ‘Full Speed’ breeze through the airwaves, jovially reaching the inner confines of the cranium before skating off as quickly as they fluttered in. Such cushion puffed numbers may appear harmless (shit, some lost souls may even purr warmly during the heart-struck musings of dishwater ballad ‘Invitation To Love’) but to the well-honed senses of discerning musos they’re as meaningful as Madonna’s wedding vows.

This aural ambivalence percolates through every pore - from ‘Valerie’’s lame, key-strewn lament to the irksome baritone during closer ‘Every Day’ - and with each slow-trotting moment Devastator seems further content to linger in the chasm of insipid, chart-hankering Blues-fodder. There’s no doubting Catfish Haven have now rendered themselves a Counting Crows for the Tesco-trotting generation. Mercifully, very few will care.

First published here and here's a video of said 'meh' band. Tell me I'm wrong. Go on, I dare you.


Anonymous said...

Is this english?? ease up on the thesaurus... seriously.

Chimpy-Chompy said...

Perhaps you should just smart the fuck up.