Volume 93, Issue 4

Friday, June 4, 1999


Pat O'Callaghan croons a sultry song

Performances in Notting Hill make it worth visiting

Catatonia equally good and frustrating

Thirteenth Floor brings bad luck

Amsterdam takes you on a trip to the dark side

Rosie should practice what she preaches

Catatonia equally good and frustrating

Equally Cursed And Blessed
Warner Music

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.

–Mark Pytlik

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Copyright The Gazette 1999