The Joup Friday Album: Catholic Action – In Memory Of

Catholic-Action-In-Memory-Of

I listen to music all day long. Terrible, terrible music. My workplace plays a “lite hits” satellite radio station all day, making sure that I’m well-acquainted with the latest by Kelly Clarkson, Maroon 5, and Jason Mraz. I wake up with these terrible songs stuck in my head every morning. I get excited when they play some 80s wuss rock trash like Kenny Loggins or REO Speedwagon because it’s still a million times better than the contemporary stuff. I look forward to December every year because I will gladly take Christmas music over this crap.

I just want to hear something good. Something new that presses the right buttons and scratches the right itches. Since the bulk of my day is spent having my ears bludgeoned by garbage, I have little time to seek out new music to try and undo the damage, so I tend to stick to the old reliables. I was determined to find something new that I actually liked for this review. In a desperation move, I googled “British guitar bands” since that’s my wheelhouse, and stumbled across this article from about a year ago. There’s actually a lot to like in there, but Catholic Action was the band that grabbed the tightest hold of my ears.

“L.U.V.” is the song featured in the aforementioned article, the first track on In Memory Of, and a damn good introduction. With a clappy, glammy Gary Glitteresque stomp along beat, it’s two minutes and twenty two seconds of good clean fun. And they even manage to squeeze in a nice, fuzzy guitar solo. “Propaganda” clocks in at only 1:48 and brings some new wavey synths to the party in a way that nicely complements the guitars rather than overpowering them. This is a Side A of delightfully short songs that don’t waste any time doing what they need to do. It’s funny – I am always a fan of a nice, tight, sub-three-minute song, but many of them leave me wishing for another 30 seconds or so. That is not the case with Catholic Action – their songs are short, to the point, and don’t overstay their welcome. That’s a gift – knowing when a song is perfect as is and resisting the urge to add another verse.

“Say Nothing” and “Black and White” keep up the trend of straightforward garagey power pop that so easily earns my affection. The former brings to mind the jagged, angular sound of Futureheads while the latter song’s crooning reminds me a bit of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas.

I can’t help but think these guys grew up listening to the same bands I loved ten or fifteen years ago. Despite a slower tempo than I usually go for, “The Shallows” sounds like it was made just for me. With a vocal that sounds a hell of lot like Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand and a tune that sounds like a mellow Libertines hangover ballad, it borrows just the right elements to rub me the right way. “New Year” brings back the Gary Glitter beat for a bouncy little number that reminds me of another favorite from the oughts, the Fratellis. And “The Real World” is another Libertines/Fratellis amalgamation, this time getting a little stripteasey about it.

Side B’s songs are all a bit longer and slower, like they needed a rest after sprinting through Side A. “Breakfast” and “Childhood Home” are downright languid, but “Doing Well” brings the pace back up with a clap-along chorus of “I’m doing well, ha ha,” which is a fun little fuck you to naysayers. “Stars and Stripes” closes things out in a very Oasish style, which I believe meets Her Majesty’s requirement that all guitar bands from the UK have at least one Oasis-sounding song.

In Memory Of is the first album in a long damn time that I’ve looked forward to repeated listens. It’s the first album I’ve felt compelled to save to a flash drive so I could listen to it in my car. That’s kind of a big deal. They’re not doing anything groundbreaking or particularly original, but they’re doing all the things I like, and doing them well, and I can’t ask for much more than that.

Dan Fiorio, consider yourself tagged.

 

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