Friday, June 18, 2021

Can't-Miss Release From the Catenary Wires

I'm interrupting my family vacation, quite happily, to remind you indie popsters today marks the official release of 'Birling Gap,' the third album from the Catenary Wires. If you're here, you no doubt already adore Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey in all of their musical incarnations, from Talulah Gosh to Tender Trap and everything in between. The Catenary Wires began as just the two of them, bedsit style, with 2015 mini-album 'Red Red Skies.' I fell hard for this melancholy stripped-down approach, at the time calling the duo indie pop's answer to Johnny and June. I say without an ounce of hyperbole "When You Walk Away" is my most listened to song of the 21st century. I know every strum, syllable and sigh. What I really like best about the album, though is Pursey emerging from the shadows to share the spotlight with Fletcher.

It would be four long years before follow-up 'Til the Morning,' and this time there would be a full band pulling out all of the stops. There is an array of instrumentation on the album, including even brass, and top-notch production would come from Andy Lewis. Lewis plays quite a bit on the album as well, and he, along with Fay Hallam and Ian Button, hit upon something, a chemistry that is palpable to the listener in much the same way as Heavenly at the band's peak.

Lucky for us, this core has stuck together, and they have grown immensely as a unit on 'Birling Gap.' All it takes is one listen to the singles "Mirrorball" and "Face On The Rail Line" to hear the Catenary Wires are going to take us on a vast and varied journey this time around. If you know this place, the album title and cover alone tells you this will be an ominous and distinctly English adventure but with universal messages. There is still a moment or two that may remind you of 'Red Red Skies,' but most of these songs sound more complex and worlds away from lo-fi. Don't expect this one to be a grower either. The harmonies will give you goosebumps right out of the chute. In short, every note and word works, from the mostly sad and anxious to the occasionally sweet and amiable. As we near the halfway point of 2021, in a year chock full of impressive releases, 'Birling Gap' is the best album I have heard so far.

In America, pick up 'Birling Gap' on the always reliable Shelflife label. For the UK and the rest of the world, purchase your copy on Amelia and Rob's own recently launched Skep Wax Records. In case my fawning hasn't been enough, here are a couple of videos to give you another nudge. Oh, and here's yet another... Don't miss more on the album during one of those famed Twitter listening parties of the great Tim Burgess coming up on June 21st.


C said...

I was totally smitten by Mirrorball, thanks to hearing it here first when you posted it a little while back. And now Face On The Rail Line too! Beautiful - it has something of a West Coast feel to it. Birling Gap, the place, is most familiar to me through a small pencil sketch on the back of an envelope drawn by my mum in 1953, when she and my dad (in happier days together as a young courting couple) travelled round the country on his motorbike. Somehow that little link seems very appropriate to this album, which I'll be checking out more. Thanks Brian - and hope you and the family enjoy the rest of your vacation too!

Brian said...

Ah, C. It has been too long. Hope you are doing well. Your observations on the latest single are spot on. Thanks for sharing that story about Birling Gap. I feel like I know the place now, but before this album I only knew of it from a video by the Cure. Take care