Album Review: Chris Catalyst – “Life Is Often Brilliant”
Until they re-appeared for a comeback gig the other month, it had all gone a bit quiet on the Eureka Machines front of late and there were a few folks worried that we might have actually seen the last of this rather awesome band – unfounded worries I’m happy to say, as it looks like they’ll be returning for album number five later this year.
However, with the Eurekas having been on temporary hiatus, it’s left singer Chris Catalyst free to put a solo album together. Normally, these things tend to be an excuse for band members to do the sort of things they generally can’t get away with in their day jobs, but with the Eurekas generally being a very versatile band to begin with, it was always going to be difficult for Chris to make a record that you couldn’t imagine the Eurekas doing, and so it is with Life Is Often Brilliant.
Not that that’s a bad thing by any stretch. If anything, this album sounds like a cross between the Eurekas and the enjoyably oddball pop of the Dowling Poole, as evidenced on the XTC indebted Same Old Sun and Cracking Up. Opener No Regrets meanwhile is a tale of trying to grow old gracefully (not entirely dissimilar lyrically to Ryan Hamilton’s Smarter) set over a driving riff.
The dreamy pop of Wake Me Up On Monday is one of the album highlights, and is followed in a killer one-two-three by the hard-hitting How Do You Sleep? and the spaghetti western atmospherics of Distance Over Time. But whether he’s putting his hand to a big dreamy ballad like I Hope We Always Stay The Same, a Ginger Wildheart slice of rock with added edge like Far, or a spiteful slice of Elvis Costello agit-pop like Sticks And Stones, Chris handles everything here with aplomb. By the time it drifts to its conclusion with the epic You Die At The End and the quite achingly lovely Able Seamen, you’ll be more than ready to cue it up for a second listen to pick up all the little bits you missed first time out.
True, there's not a huge difference here between Chris's solo output and that of the Eureka Machines, but that's anything but a bad thing. And given that it's now two years since the last Eurekas album, Life Is Often Brilliant is a very welcome release as it reminds you just how much we've missed the guy while he's been away. Varied, enjoyable and packed with tunes to boot, this is definitely one to add to your shopping list.