At a glance Hamburg’s The Catherines appear to be the bastard child of The Smiths and The Magnetic Fields with their jangly guitars, parade of gorgeous 1960s diva single covers, and outrageously long and involved song titles. But that is just scraping the surface – there really is so much more. Yes, track titles like “Is Your Bigmouth Girlfriend Really So Charming” obviously vibe Morrissey but this band takes things further. Much further. Into the hilarious and absurd. I love how over the top things get with “If You Come Back You’ll Know What’s in the Fridge” and “Yes You’re Beautiful to Look at but So Ugly Inside.” Still, things live or die on the quality of the tunes and they are excellent. Janglepophub put me on to this band and he wasn’t wrong.
Let’s start with “Everytime You Say It’s Ok, I Know It Is Ok,” the latest single, a song that adds some stylish 1960s California pop sounds to the band’s distinctive jangle. Here is proof that band’s potential range exceeds the late 1980s Britpop scene. Of course, when they’re time-traveling back to the 1980s, it’s pretty special. “Good Golly Goo” has a delightful musical roll out and vocals that sound a bit more polished than the group’s usual melodic drone. Another Smithian homage must be “If You Knew What’s Behind Her Smile You Wouldn’t Want to Make Her Happy” with a ringing guitar right off that Manchester band’s debut album. Then “Let’s Kiss Goodnight in the Morning” combines a low key vocal delivery, jangle, and wordplay reminiscent of Stephen Merchant while “I Just Want to Lie Here and Listen to Our Heartbeat” combines a bit more crunch at the start and some lovely background vocals. I even hear some very Kinks influences on tracks like “May I Say I Love You Or Will You Faint?” So, I’m basically saying, you may come for the bombastic titles and cool covers but you’ll stay for the songs and performances.