Volume 93, Issue 4
Friday, June 4, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Catatonia equally good and frustrating
Equally Cursed And Blessed
While their first two records were made toiling in relative obscurity, Equally Cursed And Blessed is the first album Catatonia has recorded as a musical heavyweight.
In other words, they made the album knowing people would be listening and this self-consciousness is occasionally evident. The result is a record which simultaneously showcases both the band's weakest and strongest traits.
Seesawing from genius to the mediocre, "Bulimic Beats" is a sublime, harp-tinged piece which is easily on par with the best Catatonia has ever written, as is the effortlessly gorgeous lullaby "Valerian." On the album's downside, "Dazed, Beautiful and Bruised" grates with the sound of a singer so enamored with her own voice that she's lost all grasp on subtlety. Likewise, the idiotic "Shoot the Messenger" is a maddeningly smug, misguided romp.
And that's how it plays out for the duration of the album's 11 tracks. A moment of unintentional self-parody followed by a glimpse of brilliance. Luckily, the good ultimately outweighs the bad, but it's tragic to think with some better editing skills this record could have been more than merely pleasant.
Catatonia's best record is still in their future, as Equally Cursed and Blessed is more of a step sideways than forward.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999