Cat's Eyes are Faris Badwan from The Horrors and Rachel Zeffira. Their eponymous debut album is released today (11 April). You'll find our 8/10 album review here. But what has everyone else been saying about the record?
Oh hi! I wasn’t expecting you there, what with being too busy dancing like one of these loons to the rather brilliant Cat’s Eyes album.
If there’s one thing this record makes me want to do, it’s don a shitload of black velvet, blunt my kohl pencil down to the base and prowl smoky, seedy bars with dark intent.
I can’t see NME’s Hamish Macbain getting his guyliner on to celebrate Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira’s debut album together, but no need, as his enthusiasm’s written all over his face anway, calling it “warm, out-there pop that was worth all the care and attention that has been invested in it,” and commenting that amongst the brilliantly silly schlock, “the charm is in the delicacy.”
Over at The Quietus, Isobel George is actually quite taken with their daft boy-meets-girl, boy-spurns-girl charade, and the way that Badwan and Zeffira are “vamping and swooning and storming and pouting in a deeply silly, smokily sexy, whirwind romance of a record.”
Gender-based pop pastiche isn’t anything much new, however – just look at all the grungy bands with “girls” somewhere about their name, or The Drums/The Heartbreaks/delete as applicable. Lisa Wright, moonlighting from NME over at The Fly, comments that, “it’s Badwan’s baritone dirge that sets Cat’s Eyes apart from the crowd – the likes of the droning ‘Sooner Or Later’ coming on like a Nick Cave post-apocalyptic vision.”
That happens to be the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis’ least favourite part of the record, however. He labels it “a groaning drone that reveals what you might politely call Badwan’s vocal limitations within the first 20 seconds, and goes on revealing them for another four very trying minutes, while it huffs away trying to channel Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds.” But consider the rest of his fancy duly tickled by Badwan and Zeffira’s understanding that “the real power of girl-group records lies less in the melodramatic productions than their emotional heft,” going on to comment that the songs “are genuinely moving and haunting in a way that, say, the oeuvre of latterday girl-group pasticheurs the Pipettes never was.”
The BBC’s Ian Wade has picked up on that creepy streak too, noting “additional elements of Nick Cave gothery, Julee Cruise, early 4AD spook, Italian horror soundtracks and the more otherworldly elements of prime 1960s pop such as Scott Walker and Bobbie Gentry.”
That taps into something we’ve known about Faris all along – his love of crate-digging for obscurities. The Metro’s John Lewis notes influences of Lee Hazlewood, Nancy Sinatra and Broadcast’s Trish Keenan, and Andy Gill at the Independent has detected “the effervescent charm of The B-52s” in there too.
All in all then, a fine crop – and admittedly, far better than anyone once might have expected from a Horrors side-project. Faris, Rachel, we’ll be seeing you for a celebratory shimmy later on. The rest of you, what do you reckon? Are you in on the fun, or sneering from the fence at such blatant pastiche?