Strange Sounds: Cat's Eyes
New Music of Note
by Nick Parker
Zaffira and Badwan are the Cat's Eyes
If you're looking for a left-field album, an album that seems to shout its peculiarity from the roof-tops, the Cat's Eyes project clearly has the credentials. Cat's Eyes is a collaboration between Faris Badwan, the lead-singer of The Horrors, and Canadian opera singer Rachel Zaffira. Listening to this strange album prompts a question for me: What makes a successful side-project? It's a interesting question to bring up in reference to this album because, whatever mysterious concoction the good side-project does consist of, Cat's Eyes is certainly made of it.
To start with, Cat's Eyes has a number of elements that made The Horror's two albums (so far – number three is on the way this summer!) so compelling. It keeps up a powerful sense of drama in the vocals for example, and the reverb on tracks like "I'm not stupid" recalls that slightly scary falling sensation you can get from having Horrors-like music wash over you. The Horrors are, unsurprisingly, always a little un-nerving. Cat's Eyes too make things which should be innocent seem dark and abnormal.
But that's not the whole story - and even if it were, you would still be entitled to feel cheated if the Cat's Eyes was merely a new Horrors album. The side-project must always be a step into the musical unknown, where you use the trust you have developed in the original band to leap into something that is very much its own. This album, born of what I understand is Badwan's deep interest in 60s pop, is very slight and sedate, where The Horror's music is often driving and even violent.
If I was pushed I'd have to admit that I'm not in love with Cat's Eyes music as much as I am with The Horrors, but you'd have to push me, because Cat's Eyes stands as an entrancing mix of things you might have heard before, and things that are altogether new.