Catherine Wheel - Chrome
This becomes apparent straight away when you listen to "Kill Rhythm", the opening track. If you were expecting shoegaze, at this point, you would be disappointed. The only guitar distortion is to add power and any concept of dream-like vocalising pushed to the background has vanished. This is what shoegaze would have sounded like if the melody had been given a lot more prominence. Hell, this is shoegaze with a melodic structure, fullstop. And this was not an aberration for "I Confess" pretty much follows the same pattern. The vocals are harsh, the guitars are heavy. I always believed that Catherine Wheel were shoegazers who didn't want to be. Have I been proved right? As you listen to the album it becomes clear that many tracks follow this pattern - "Broken Head", "Chrome" and "Ursa Major Space Station". Yet while the band flirts with metal, they never fully give in to it.
As if to emphasise the dichotomy, the lack of unity of the album, the other tracks are much more in what one would expect to be the normal shoegazer style. My favourite track of the album, "Crank", is typical, with a rather strange keyboard melody which surfaces from time to time. "Pain" and "The Nude" are two other great tracks in the same vein, the vocals more dreamy and distant, the guitars deeper and less reliant on volume. As it is with "Fripp" and "Half Life", which also drift towards that side of the albums apparent dual personality.
What is a person to conclude from all this. Well the album lacks homogeneity for a start. It is as if two different bands combined and rather than try to find a middle ground, decided to devote half of the album to one style, and half to another. Does it work? Well I would have to say yes, though like anyone, I tend to prefer one style to the other. Does it detract from the album? No not really. The album stands on its own merit, and even though it lacks any true stand out track, of the sort that "Black Metallic" was on Ferment, Chrome remains a fine album and one which is well worth adding to your collection.
On the bad side of things, this album marks a point at which Catherine Wheel began to leave their shoegazer roots behind. This album propelled them to some status on the US college radio circuit (something the like of which does not exist in the UK) and marked the high point from which their slow decline into a directionless form, indistinguishable from a thousand and one other outfits finally overwhelmed them in the early years of the last decade. If you want to know where it all started to go wrong, look no further than Chrome. The thing is though, this is as good an album as the nineties produced in its own right.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.
on 2011-02-26 CharlesMartel Said:
One of the finest shoegaze albums of all time with some classic tracks - "Crank", "Fripp", "The Nude" and "Pain".