Sufjan Stevens’ right hand woman takes centre stage here with her new project Stranger Cat. With a CV that takes in the likes of The Shins, Sharon Van Etten and Son Lux, Cat Martino belts out a number of tunes with her sights trained directly at the radio. Out on CD and vinyl LP from Joyful Noise.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 22 April 2015
Cat Martino wrote and made ‘In The Wilderness’ out in a cottage, but its expanse and supernatural magic is true: this music is otherworldly, unconfined by four walls, straining for that big and impenetrable pop sound. This kind of grandstanding about melody is usually conjured by bold artists like London Grammar, Jessie Ware and M83, and while Martino starts with a more modest backdrop, it ends up the same: utilising beats that tinker and click, plus loops that steer her back to point A, Martino nonetheless finds time to wring grandiose choruses -- the synths intensifying, her voice becoming the voice of theatre.
‘In The Wilderness’ deftly juxtaposes its two aspects of sound, moving from self-contained to pantomimic and boisterous the way Hundred Waters did with ‘The Moon Rang Like a Bell’’ on “I Lost It” Martino obscures her song, draining the synths of their life and processing her voice into a contained space before unleashing it into the open again. Her voice, coupled with a harmony on “In The Wilderness”, closes in around a syncopated beat, folded into a wobbly rhythm that sounds both irresistible and impossible.
Martino’s pop music isn’t always the most direct, and sometimes it suffers from its reverence for loops, manipulation and circularity, where it could travel more linear paths to achieve its grand results. “Remember Me” is a good example of how strong Martino’s songwriting is, ending with a huge vocal delivery before a stupefying beat clicks back in. There's a spectrum, and she's navigating it.
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- In The Wilderness by Stranger Cat
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