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Catatonia - International Velvet

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International Velvet

Catatonia

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Prior to International Velvet, Catatonia offered modest, lovely pleasures -- pretty, ringing pop songs filled with sweet and sour melodies. Apparently, the band was concerned that they were a little too precious, a little too similar to late-'80s indie pop groups like the Primitives, so they beefed up their sound, turned up the guitars and toughened up their attack for International Velvet, their second major-label album (the first to be released in America). It's a gambit that fails as often it succeeds. Part of the problem is that the hard rock sounds forced, never quite rocking with the abandon it should and keeping much of the album grounded. More problematically, Cerys Matthews has a captivating voice but a weakness for gimmicks -- "I Am the Mob" and "Mulder and Scully" have terrific hooks, but it's hard to get with their self-conscious pop culture references. Still, at least they bring memorable melodies to the songs. When their songwriting comes up short, there isn't enough attitude or snarl to the performances to make them enjoyable -- which is precisely what the sonic revamping should have given them. Even with the flaws, International Velvet has its fair share of pop delights -- it just doesn't deliver as many as Way Beyond Blue, which had a surplus of melody and grace.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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International Velvet

Catatonia

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1
Mulder and Scully
00:04:11

JONES, Composer - Catatonia, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Joe Gibb, Engineer - Roland Herrington, Mixer - Jason Harris, Assistant Engineer - Tommy D, Producer, Mixer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

2
Game On
00:02:52

Catatonia, Producer, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Tommy D., Producer, Mixer - Joe Gibb, Engineer - Roland Herrington, Mixer - Paul Read, Engineer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

3
I Am the Mob
00:03:09

JONES, Composer - Catatonia, Composer, Producer, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Dave Bascombe, Mixer, Remixer - Tommy D., Producer - Joe Gibb, Engineer - Jason Harris, Assistant Engineer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1997 Warner Music UK Ltd.

4
Road Rage
00:05:08

Aled Richards, Writer - Mark Roberts, Writer - Owen Powell, Writer - Catatonia, Producer, MainArtist - Cerys Matthews, Writer - David Jones, Writer - Tommy D., Producer, Mixer - Joe Gibb, Engineer - Roland Herrington, Mixer - Jason Harris, Assistant Engineer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

5
Johnny Come Lately
00:04:36

JONES, Composer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Engineered By Greg Haver., Engineer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

6
Goldfish and Paracetamol
00:03:50

JONES, Composer - Engineered By Joe Gibb. Assisted By Jason Harris., Engineer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

7
International Velvet
00:04:24

JONES, Composer - Engineered By Joe Gibb. Assisted By Jason Harris., Engineer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

8
Why I Can't Stand One Night Stands
00:02:40

JONES, Composer - Engineered By Joe Gibb. Assisted By Jason Harris., Engineer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

9
Part of the Furniture
00:04:08

JONES, Composer - Engineered By Joe Gibb. Assisted By Jason Harris., Engineer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

10
Don't Need the Sunshine
00:03:49

JONES, Composer - Engineered By Joe Gibb. Assisted By Jason Harris., Engineer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

11
Strange Glue
00:03:44

JONES, Composer - Catatonia, Producer, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Tommy D., Producer, Mixer - Joe Gibb, Engineer - Roland Herrington, Mixer - Jason Harris, Assistant Engineer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

12
My Selfish Gene
00:02:26

JONES, Composer - Engineered By Joe Gibb. Assisted By Jason Harris., Engineer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Produced By Tommy D And Catatonia., Producer - Mixed By Tommy D And Joe Gibb, Mixer, Remixer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1997 Warner Music UK Ltd.

13
No Stone Unturned
00:03:29

JONES, Composer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Engineered By Greg Haver., Engineer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Catatonia., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

14
Mantra for the Lost
00:02:49

JONES, Composer - Catatonia, MainArtist - Matthews, Composer - Roberts, Composer - Engineered By Greg Haver., Engineer - Powell, Composer - Richards, Composer - Produced By Catatonia., Producer

© 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd. ℗ 1998 Warner Music UK Ltd.

Album Description

Prior to International Velvet, Catatonia offered modest, lovely pleasures -- pretty, ringing pop songs filled with sweet and sour melodies. Apparently, the band was concerned that they were a little too precious, a little too similar to late-'80s indie pop groups like the Primitives, so they beefed up their sound, turned up the guitars and toughened up their attack for International Velvet, their second major-label album (the first to be released in America). It's a gambit that fails as often it succeeds. Part of the problem is that the hard rock sounds forced, never quite rocking with the abandon it should and keeping much of the album grounded. More problematically, Cerys Matthews has a captivating voice but a weakness for gimmicks -- "I Am the Mob" and "Mulder and Scully" have terrific hooks, but it's hard to get with their self-conscious pop culture references. Still, at least they bring memorable melodies to the songs. When their songwriting comes up short, there isn't enough attitude or snarl to the performances to make them enjoyable -- which is precisely what the sonic revamping should have given them. Even with the flaws, International Velvet has its fair share of pop delights -- it just doesn't deliver as many as Way Beyond Blue, which had a surplus of melody and grace.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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