CATHERINE WHEEL: ADAM AND EVE (1997)
1) Intro; 2) Future Boy; 3) Delicious; 4) Broken Nose; 5) Phantom Of The American Mother; 6) Ma Solituda; 7) Satellite; 8) Thunderbird; 9) Here Comes The Fat Controller; 10) Goodbye; 11) For Dreaming.
Not something I would be consciously looking for. The record does happen to be a fan favorite and all that, but now that they have cut down on the «metallic» part of the sound, they did not do that much to return the «ambient» part of that sound — and what we are left with is a mope-rock album, kind of a proto-Coldplay but with a very strong Pink Floyd influence. The acoustic introduction, in fact, sounds like a demo version of ʽMotherʼ, which might not be coincidental, considering that Bob Ezrin was brought into the producer's seat; and at one point they even have a direct lyrical quotation from ʽShine On You Crazy Diamondʼ, which is not irritating at all, but it does result in reminding us one extra time of just how derivative this band is.
The songs are not bad, but they largely get by on the strength of the choruses, and they truly require you to appreciate the charisma of Dickinson — who, in my opinion, just does not have as nearly an achingly beautiful voice as this music is supposed to require. And by shifting the balance over to these vocal hooks, straining with p-p-p-pain and all, Catherine Wheel move from the cosmic plane to a much more personal sphere, where I am not sure that they really belong. Or, at the very least, they have ten times as much competition there than wheverer it was that they used to float around on their first two records.
Besides, one should not forget that the album was released two months after the Big One — in July 1997, we were already living in a post-OK Computer universe, where any new big statement of personal fatigue, disillusionment, and fear of existence in a modern world would have to stand up against the musical innovations and emotional personality of Abingdon School; yet the melodic content that we have here is still way too derivative of the shoegazing drone, only without the shoegazing mesmerism — and just about every song sets the same mood: at the end of each one, you get the urge to come up to Mr. Dickinson, give him a gentle hug and say, "It's alright man. Pull yourself together. It was not me who strangled your cat and abducted your wife. It just happens. You just have to mix with the right people."
Of the three singles (ʽDeliciousʼ, ʽBroken Noseʼ, ʽMa Solitudaʼ), I might try to single out ʽBroken Noseʼ for its able alternation of low and high vocals and a specially increased level of personal bitterness that could border on punkish anger, if it weren't so deeply soaked in desperation like everything else. Or perhaps it should have been ʽMa Solitudaʼ, just because the former two are both hard-rockers and this one is more like a moody art-pop song, with cellos and stuff? Forget it. They all give off the same vibe — and it's a nice vibe, but it never gets sharp enough to truly hold my attention. As affected as they were by Pink Floyd, they never ended up learning the main lesson — if you want to infect others with your emotions, you have to give it all you've got. But Rob Dickinson is never as pissed off and determined as Roger Waters, and Brian Futter is never as tightly wound-up and aggressive as Dave Gilmour.
The result is that I have nothing to say about these songs, good or bad. They simply exist. If you like your fifty shades of mope, I guess Adam And Eve could easily be the fifty-first one, but there's too much pop here for me to truly enjoy the atmosphere, and too much atmosphere (and still way too many distorted guitars playing one-chord patterns) to catch myself up on the pop hooks. Respectable, ultimately, but... boring.