Faris Badwan has had his fingers in lots of different musical pies. Cat's Eyes is his latest; a collaboration with singer Rachel Zaffira and it's a magnificently moody piece of work. Mr Badwan has dipped into the sound palette of Sixties girl bands and come back with a highly engaging collection of ten tracks which sucessfully resurrects some of the magic of that era.
Ms Zaffira's whistful voice is absolutely ideal for the job. Her breathy tone recalls the young Francoise Hardy (whose 1967 album 'Ma Jeunesse Fout Le Camp' came especially to mind). Mr Baldwin is the beast to Ms Zaffira's beauty. He slips and slides and snarls like the very best (worst?) kind of lounge lizard. Listen to his marvelously wayward performance on 'Face In The Crowd'. He is a creature of the night. No ifs or buts!
There are some very pretty tunes here too. The string arrangements on the truly lovely 'I'm Not Stupid' and the small but perfectly formed 'Not A Friend' are beautifully judged and sensitively frame Ms Zaffira's fragile delivery. The latter's lilting bossa nova beat and dreamy melody proves to be one of the album's understated highlights.
Only two of the songs weigh-in at over three minutes and the album slips by in the blink of an eye but despite its diminutive stature it manages nonetheless to punch way above its weight.
'Sooner Or Later' is the album's real curiosity. A spectacularly sombre dirge which has Mr Badwan intoning darkly like the very devil himself! (Listen carefully and you will hear him smashing two thigh bones together deep down in the mix for added nightmarish texture ... Brrrr!)
However, on the final tiny composition 'I Knew It Was Over' he also shows a capacity for tenderness. It is a strangely moving performance. Ms Zaffira creates a chorus of angels and fluffy clouds around him to bring the album to a gentle and markedly un-demonic conclusion.
'Cat's Eyes' is a worthy work of wildly inventive musical imagination.