It’s back to the future with Australia’s Catcall, whose debut offering The Warmest Place stands first and foremost as a tribute to all (musical) things 80s — an influence the band readily owns up to on its website. Indeed, right up behind oversize tops and robot sunglasses comes this album, 14 tracks that reek of 30-year-old dance-pop.
Now, when I say reek, I don’t mean stink. The band doesn’t do a bad job with the hand its been dealt — or rather, the hand it has chosen. True to form, each track is grounded in heavy, rhythmic bass lines that support the hollow, reverberating vocals that were the trademark of the decade’s female vocalists. They can be danced to, bobbed-along to, probably jazzercized to if one is so inclined. Even odd-one-out openers “The Warmest Place,” a 45-second gospel-like acapella number, and “August,” which sees the theme of piety continued with its distinct organ-based instrumentals, have a place in the era if you consider the opening seconds of George Michael’s Faith, which featured an alarmingly somber rendition of “Freedom” played out on the organ as well.
As an obvious and faithful callback to the era of excess, then, the album is certainly a success. The problem with The Warmest Place is simply that it doesn’t really amount to much else. The tracks are pleasant — lead singer Catherine Kelleher’s voice is easy to listen to and the instrumentals are, for the most part, engaging enough to anchor onto, with the exception of the incessant one-note repetition at the end of “Shoulda Been” — but they don’t offer up anything new. In fact, The Warmest Place could verily be simply described as yet another brick in the wall of 80s culture our generation seems so intent on hiding behind. And while certain reincarnations see innovative modifications that make them worth a second spin, this one lacks value beyond the fact that it is a by-the-book imitation. In this way, Catcall is much like a cover band, able to go through the motions to please a crowd well enough, but certainly never a substitute for the real deal — at least, not yet.
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