From noisy, mohawked one man band Robochrist to Leeds power pop heroes Eureka Machines, Chris Catalyst has had a varied and colourful musical career. While The Eurekas may not be a full-time job these days, let’s not forget he has also been a hired hand for the likes of The Sisters Of Mercy, Ugly Kid Joe and Ginger Wildheart along the way to help pay the rent.
‘Kaleidoscopes’ is the sophomore solo album from the Leeds based singer/songwriter, the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2017 album ‘Life Is Often Brilliant’.
Album opener ‘Make Good Art’ is a surprise departure for Chris and sees him explore new territories. Using samples of an inspirational Neil Gaiman speech set to indie dance beats, it’s got an instant Primal Scream meets NIN vibe. The message of the value of art and the importance of creation on your own terms seems quite fitting at a time when artists have been creating in new and exciting ways. It has a gospel choir, trumpets and distorted guitars blended together by everyone’s go-to producer extraordinaire Dave Draper.
The influences on ‘Kaleidoscopes’ are as varied and interesting as the lyrical themes. 90’s Brit Pop is a major influence, but you will also hear inspiration from the likes of Duran Duran and Tears For Fears, as well as the more obvious Beatles and Bowie influence. Always an artist who looks for the cloud with a silver lining, lyrically, Chris tackles Politics, Brexit, keyboard warriors, mental health, and basically just striving to be dead happy with life.
And his upbeat sentiment on life comes through in the music. ‘Happy’ is a simple, indie-fied, acoustic strummer, with a sweet verse that leads into a stadium-sized, sing-a-long chorus designed to put joy in your heart and a spring in your stride. A musical antidote to suppress the demons. A simple message full of sentiment can be more powerful than a handful of pills and a damn site better for you. This is the one you will be singing along to long after the black vinyl/silver disc/virtual thingy (delete as applicable) has stopped spinning. Similarly, one of the most instant and memorable songs on offer is ‘I’m Not Ok’, where a dampened riff gives backing for Chris’ message of getting back on your feet when things are crashing all around you. Weezer eat yer heart out! There’s even a Slash inspired solo thrown in for good measure.
While you could say these songs are typical Chris Catalyst power pop fodder, there are plenty of curve balls, departures and just dead nice musical moments to discover. Be surprised at how ‘King Of Everything’ sounds like Madness in the verses before blasting into a trademark, upbeat Eureka chanting chorus. Savour the fact that the grungy ‘Divide and Rule’ comes on like King’s X with lush Beatle-esque vocal harmonies and a signature Catalyst power pop hook. Then laugh at the fact there is an instrumental named after an episode of Aussie soap Neighbours where the dog had a dream sequence. Yes, ‘Bouncer’s Dream’ is for real!
The overly familiar sounding ‘Never Going To Change’ pilfers from Supergrass and Oasis which is never a bad thing, and ‘The Ride’ is one of those slow burners that creeps up on you after repeated listens. A chuggy riff here, a stadium-sized chorus there and a nifty detuned section that will make the metal heads cream their denim jeans.
Taking his collective influences from Brit Pop, 80’s pop music and turn of the century Pop Punk, Chris Catalyst has shaped an album that wins on every level. ‘Kaleidoscopes’ is a layered album that brings something new with every listen. One of those albums where your favourite track changes with each listen. A lot of work and a lot of love has gone into this album, from the songwriting to the production and onto the presentation and artwork. Hell, it even comes with a fanzine packed with information on the songwriting process that smells like the plastic ice cream container I kept my toy soldiers in as a kid! You can’t get more nostalgic than that!
Buy Kaleidoscopes Here
Author: Ben Hughes