Catch Prichard - I Still Miss Theresa Benoit Music Album Reviews

Catch Prichard - I Still Miss Theresa Benoit Music Album Reviews
The Oakland band’s darkly psychedelic country folk suggests things on the verge of collapse. In March 2020, as singer Sawyer Gebauer unwittingly contracted COVID-19, that was truer than anyone knew.

Plenty of people sing baritone; few sound as tortured by it as Sawyer Gebauer does on I Still Miss Theresa Benoit. In the best of circumstances, the Catch Prichard singer’s voice seems as though it’s been cooked down until it’s thick, rich, and a little acrid, like coffee reducing on a burner. There is a perpetual flutter in his throat, a mild instability that makes him sound sometimes like ANOHNI and sometimes like Nico, but usually like he’s working hard to keep himself composed. That little gap between what Gebauer is singing and how he’s singing it allows pathos to pour into Catch Prichard’s darkly psychedelic country music in a way that makes it feel appealingly overwrought, its sweetness curdling into menace like Twin Peaks gone spaghetti western.

But this album was not made in the best of circumstances. The quartet recorded I Still Miss Theresa Benoit in the first week of March 2020, just as COVID–19 was beginning to pick up steam on the West Coast. Though he didn’t know it at the time, Gebauer was infected with the virus, which left his brain foggy and his voice ragged. The band considered re-tracking his vocals but ultimately decided to leave them in as a testament to a unique moment in history. As a result, I Still Miss Theresa Benoit is possibly the first album to be sung by someone suffering the effects of COVID–19, and the effect is obvious. Though Gebauer’s voice still contains many mansions, they sound as though they’re all infected with dry rot. You expect things to collapse at any moment.

This sense of high drama suits Catch Prichard’s music perfectly. I Still Miss Theresa Benoit is structured in an arc, its beginning and ending rooted in swampy, abstracted songs while its middle section rises into the more traditionally structured country folk of the band’s earlier work. The haziness of the bookending tracks works to the album’s advantage. “I don’t love no one the way that I love you,” Gebauer sings in the chorus of “Lipstick and Fur.” Like Dickens’ Miss Havisham, he’s become musty and overgrown, and he sings the words like he’s recalling an unfortunate fact; you can practically see the wedding cake molding nearby.

Elsewhere, he luxuriates in the lush settings his band provides. Gebauer treats opener “Cherry Bomb” like a confessional cabaret, his threadbare voice stretched over a mistily arpeggiating Beach House synth. “What a shame/That our shame ain’t enough/For you and I and you and us,” he sings as the song rolls through one of its many dramatic surges. Despite, or perhaps because of, the ways Gebauer reaches for the highest limits of his range, it’s impossible to tell if he’s putting his subject on. The dangled possibility that it’s all for show—the nagging sense that he doesn’t mean any of the things he’s singing—makes it a darkly compelling introduction.

The band seems to know they can’t play it straight around their singer’s voice. Like the Bad Seeds, they operate in a cloud of incense, favoring suggestive gestures over clear articulation. While Gebauer’s narrator sits alone at home tracing his anxieties in “Worried Man,” the soft, juicy tones of synthesizer surrounding him give the song a strange glow that undercuts his fears; as Andy Wilke’s trumpet bathes the song in dawn light, drummer Tim DeCillis practically marches Gebauer out of the house to show him how unfounded his fears are. Even when they shy away from experimentation, they manipulate these songs effortlessly, calmly shifting “Seatbelts” from a haunted cowboy lope into Sonoran dub and back again. The nature of Gebauer’s voice is such that the band could easily allow it to carry the weight of these songs; instead, they consistently find ways to lengthen the shadows it casts.

There’s a fine line between self-awareness and self-parody, though, and Gebauer occasionally strays across it in his pursuit of drama. The narrator of “A Reef of Dead Metaphors” lingers in the shame of his failings, contrasting his experience with that of a vague “they” who “say life is easy.” We’re meant to sympathize, but the idea is so baffling it strains credulity; not even Jimmy Buffett says life is easy. At the peak of the album’s dramatic arc, Gebauer works his way around the line, “I don’t regret no woman yet,” the tension in his voice loosening with every repetition. The song palpably softens as he repeats the lyric, but the word “yet” hangs there ominously; whether intentional or not, it makes it seem like he’s got a wolf on a chain and he wants you to pet it.

The album’s most powerful moment comes when Gebauer abandons artifice entirely. As “A Reef of Dead Metaphors” builds, he worries about the ways love can erase one’s sense of self: “I can’t see the changes,” he practically shouts, “so I’ve written over the pages.” He sounds terrible, frankly, as he pushes his voice far beyond its limitations, and it breaks apart in midair; the song behind him melts into another key, knocking him out of tune. It’s a strange thrill to hear Gebauer relinquish control of his voice in the album’s final moments. And yet, as the song is given over to beautifully droning synths and strings, it feels like in this last gasp and long exhale, Catch Prichard are speaking at their most eloquently.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Catch Prichard - I Still Miss Theresa Benoit Music Album Reviews Catch Prichard - I Still Miss Theresa Benoit Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on June 30, 2021 Rating: 5


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