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Album Review

All too often quality acts surface and sink without so much as a sound. Only months or years later, while surfing the web or digging through import bins, does anyone realize something's been missed. In 1995, Catchers gained some notoriety in Europe with their debut Mute, a release that would have fit nicely on the label of the same name. Faced with the possibility of next-big-thing status, one band member responded, "We're not a trendy image of the times, we're more substantial than that." The Irish quartet toured the states for six weeks in support of Mute, and promptly faded back into obscurity. That Catchers managed only a blip on the radar screen in the U.S. is still more proof that popularity and quality often exist independently of each other. Like releases from such shoegazer acts as Ride and My Bloody Valentine, Mute is cold and distant, yet filled with emotion. Make no mistake; the similarities between Catchers and the aforementioned end there. Lead single "Cotton Dress" finds vocalists Dale Grundle and Alice Lemon trading lines over a bounding melody (not hiding behind walls of guitars), as if completely unaware of each other. In "Beauty No. 3" and "Sleepyhead," their harmonies drift through dreamy soundscapes with seeming indifference. "Apathy" brings crunchy guitars and an off-kilter circus keyboard riff into the mix, both played as if in a vacuum. Such effected detachment could make Mute as pretentious and incoherent as a teenage tribute to Bauhaus or Joy Division. But the result is hollow without being empty, leaving the listener to bask in the haunting grace of this hard-to-find treasure.

Mute, Catchers
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