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Cardinal
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Cardinal were a 'blink and you miss them' kind of band. Eric Matthews and Richard Davies released one album, a single and then split up. They played a few gigs, and were then chucked in the dustbin of history.

Thank God for re-issues, then! And what a reissue this is! There is so much bonus material here, that it makes you wish Cardinal had never split up because you just want more and more and more. There are 'live' tracks, out-takes, doodles and demo versions. The demo versions are particularly revealing becasue frequently, if Richard Davies sang the finished album version, Eric Matthews sings the demo version. This offers a fascinating insight into how the album was created, and how the brought together all the different elements to make their songs. (Also, Richard Davies' singing on the demos is slightly less 'twee' than on the album, some might say).

However, this would all be irrelevant if the album wasn't a stone cold classic in it's own right. The ten songs on the album meld together thematically and sonically to form almost a loose concept: if you get your ass kicked, someday you'll get back up again. Not exactly "Tales From Topographic Oceans", but it'll do.

As a rule of thumb, Davies supplies the words, Matthews supplies the arrangements, and the two compliment each other perfectly. The album has quite a lush sound, with orchestral elements fleshing out the basic guitar/bass/drums set-up.

The first track, 'If You Believe in Christmas Trees', encapsulates the overall feel of the album. A simple guitar part is led by a bass melody, which builds into a full band sound. Then sweet, sweeping strings enter the picture, giving the song a very different hue. But the real master-stroke comes in towards the end when a full baroque brass arrangement bursts into life, taking the song in a whole other direction. The words narrate a beguiling tale of loser-dom, with the protagonist getting beaten up at the end to the sound of the baroque horns. In a word, stunning.

For what it's worth, Davies' voice, which is in a higher register and very enunciated, can become slightly grating at times, and the album lacks serious bite. There are shifts in mood, but I guess the overall tone is 'whimsical'. But other than that, I really can't find any reason to doubt it. A treat for the ears.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2005
I have the original release of this record - very good if a little short. The extra tracks here sated my appetite for more, it's a great record, I hear echoes of Arthur Lee (they even cover a LOVE track here) and Davies voice is superb. Can't falt it. BUY.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2005
And that is saying something. A thing of beauty and grace. Gott this originally back in 1997 but the reissue doubles the band's output - very interesting demos and Toy Bell EP extracts. Limited ed. is particularly great with its lovely gatefold. Check out why Flaming lips and SFA Love it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2005
i heard a sampler tape from this album many years ago, but nothing prepared me for the full album (especially the expanded reissue w/ 11 extra tracks). a glorious mix of left banke, love and a hint of very early bowie. I recommend to anyone with an ear for a twisted pop song!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 13 September 2005
And that says something. Got this originally in 1997 but this is worth it for the demos and Toy Bell EP extracts. The limited edition is especially recommended. An inspiration to SFA Aand the Falming lips: check out why
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on 15 January 2007
This LP is so good that I bought it twice! I got the original version but had to snap up this lavish reissue - remastered sound, 11 bonus tracks and fascinating liner notes from Richard Davies and Eric Matthews. Onto the music - a heady brew of The Zombies, The Left Banke and Love, with a dash of Bowie. Eric Matthews' voice is breathy and lush like Elliott Smith or Colin Blunstone, while Richard Davies' voice is grittier and more stringy. Together they come up with some amazing harmonies, and their melodies are gorgeous - timeless sixties hooks with a 90s alternative pop sensibility. This is an ace CD that you will not regret purchasing!
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