[sic] Magazine

Cathédrale – Facing Death

Howlin’ Banana is a no-nonsense label that knows what it likes. As such, their roster is full with quality garage-psych bands and, while sharing a love for spidery jangles and budget riffs, each still manages to do their own thing within the confines. New to the family, French four-piece Cathédrale are now up to two LPs in as many years and at ten tracks that pass in less than 30 minutes, Facing Death is a timely reminder that the best things come in small packages.

Featuring the gnarly artwork of Matthieu Freak City, it’s an album that front-loads its two catchy singles at the top of the running order, perhaps in order to catch the ear of the attention-deficient Spotify generation (seriously, label marketing directors are consciously sequencing albums like this for this reason in a truly grim reflection of today’s music industry). Cathédrale are no self-promoters though as, in truth, any of their tracks could be a single as each is laced with poppy motifs and yet each is also dragged off in decidedly more DIY directions at the same time.

Consequently unsure at times of what type of band they want to be, Cathédrale are often two or more simultaneously. Pillowy pogoing is pitted against harder feedback during the opening lead single, for example, and – more surprisingly – the fast-paced “Question” marries its dancey herky-jerk to scratchy post-punk riffs borrowed from someone like The Drums, darker guitars hiding in the shadows the deeper you go. The tight angles of post-punk once again rise to the surface during the sub-two-minute “Games”, a blast of drawling slacker-garage reminiscent of a number of Aussie bands covered on these pages over the last few years.

With nods to city-mates Slift, “You Can Fall” hops however like a cat on a hot tin roof, moody mono-note totems standing firm amidst the whoosh and whistle of spacey psych. An absolute ripper that’s resolutely been down the gym, “Signal” in turn opens with nasty feedback that then contorts into a grinding groove, the track dropping in intensity only to let a chorus or two fly in the style of a band like Magnetix. Less an ecclesiastical palace and more of a rickety missionary shack then, whatever their caprice, Cathédrale seem to play just for the fun of it and their live show must consequently be a mess of broken strings, crumpled clothing and blown-out audio. And when you’re able to distil a band down to these winning raw ingredients that’s all that matters.

Best track: “Signal”

~Facing Death is out now via Howlin’ Banana.~