Cat’s Eyes has turned out to be a remarkably durable collaboration: Rachel Zeffira and Faris Badwan (him from The Horrors) recently soundtracked Peter Strickland’s film The Duke Of Burgundy. New album Treasure House is a lush and dramatic piece of audio cinema: all rather enveloping. Released by RAF.
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Yes, it’s true! Rachel Zeffira and Faris Badwan are back in their Cat’s Eyes guise, and with new music! I could scarcely have dreamt of something better happening today. Majestic orchestral pop is just what I needed to hear on an overcast Tuesday afternoon.
‘Treasure House’ is only the second proper album from the band to date, following their self-titled debut from way back in 2011. That was quite a wait. There was, of course, their rather fine soundtrack to Peter Strickland's film, 'The Duke of Burgundy', and both Faris and Rachel have been involved in their own individual projects. The record is a further exploration into sixties girl-group nostalgia, classical arrangements and electronic composition.
The album opens with the title track; pretty strings and harp tumble out of my headphones evoking a symphonic fairy-tale, or one of Disney’s more edgy fables. Badwan’s vocals provide the slightly dark counterpoint to Rachel’s sweetness on the following track, ‘Drag’. “My friends All Say I’ve changed…”, she laments. ‘Chameleon Queen’ comes across Mercury Rev circa ‘Deserter’s Songs’. It might also be indebted to the influence of Pachelbel’s ‘Canon’. Faris takes the lead vocal duty on this track. They are alternating this, it seems. They complement each other well. Faris is the Serge to Rachel’s Brigitte, perhaps.
While Rachel’s classical background informed and shaped the graceful, pastoral feel of the first album, this record feels thematically steered by Badwan’s fixation with the bonkers Phil Spector and his work with the Crystals and the Ronettes. Girl-group playfulness meets widescreen orchestration to spacious effect which transcends pastiche. ‘Be Careful Where You Park Your Car’ is two minutes of handclaps, luscious harmonies and, despite the sugary veneer and the sweetness of Rachel’s vocal, an unsettling undertone. The kind of thing these two do uniquely well. Oh, how I have missed them.
It was worth the five year wait for this album; it might just keep me going until their third, which should get to us in time for summer 2021.
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