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Wishville

Catherine Wheel

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Album Review

Catherine Wheel first bowed onto the U.K. music scene in 1992 with "Black Metallic," a haunting single from their debut, Ferment. These shoegazers introduced a raucous sound so real that their maddening lyrics and lustful connotations were dramatic, in the sense that they were searching for spiritual place.

Catherine Wheel did find a spiritual place of sorts in their new label, Columbia since being dropped from the now defunct Mercury Records in 1997. Wishville marks the band's fifth release of original material since 1997's Adam and Eve and their juggernaut passion is right-on this time around. Produced by longtime advocate-producer Tim Friese-Greene (Talk Talk), Wishville is typically embryonic like 1993's Chrome, and the majesty of rock & roll seems steady. The opening "Sparks Are Gonna Fly" pounces with wah-wah guitar riffs and throbbing percussion over frontman Rob Dickinson's deep scratchy, airless vocals. Dickinson is irresistibly cunning, and the fiery soul on tracks such as "Ballad of Running Man" and "What We Want to Believe" is stripped into lush sonicscapes of riveting guitar riffs and whining harmonic cries. Internal emotional tension swivels inside Dickinson's poetic mind, but that intensity quickly dwindles.

Catherine Wheel's signature ballads are moody and deeply dramatic. Wishville, however, reaches for the same tenderness, but to no avail. "All of That" is a personal trip to an outside world, but it is not relatively believable; "Creme Caramel" frolics with sensual illusions to wedding-night thighs and river-blue eyes, but the '60s synth strings are draining. Catherine Wheel is sweetly smooth, but a touch distant when they wish upon a star.

Biography

Formed: April, 1990 in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

By using their influences as a mere launching pad and consistently developing their many strengths, Catherine Wheel was able to outlast all of their early peers. With their initial singles and first album, the band from East Anglia fit snugly with the remainder of bands that the British press eventually labeled as shoegazers, a short-lived sub-scene of bands that were characterized by an inactive stage presence, loads of effects pedals, and buried vocals. However, the always tuneful Catherine Wheel...
Full bio