Indie Rock is such an unpredictable mistress, but when she is sweet, she is oh so sweet. One such group that is providing me with some of that delicious sweetness at present is Cathedral Pearls. From fantastic compositions to brilliant execution, this is a band on the rise. It’s refreshing to find bands like this, that is to say the rare group meant to make music together.
“Spies Like Us” the opener has an old time 60s flavor to it, but does it with a kind of panache that is unexpected. From Max’s lead vocal to the eerie backing vocals, the track is both 007 and a little Hitchcock. It’s cultic and classic and a perfect start to the album.
The title track “Off My Chain” has a quintessential Indie Rock sound. From the light and fluffy electric guitar to the trendy 21st century harmony structures, it’s a very timely piece of writing. The vocals are so good that they really make the rest of the song work. “Open your golden eyes… open your hands of doubt… I’ve seen the golden gates…” References to the golden gate and Beatniks puts listeners in mind of San Francisco. In fact the whole sound is very California (even though it’s a Washington production).
“Barnacles” is driven by the female lead Carrie and they are stunning. The ambient synth backing along with the soprano melodies ease the listener into a wonderful track. The following “Hook of My Heart” has a different more whimsical tone throughout. Although the lead comes from Max, the sound is still as high as the previous. What makes this song so good is the way it blends the lyrics and the music. “Take my hand and I would be the honored one… hold each other close until the music stops… lead you to the center of a dancing floor… secluded in the center of a crowd so strong.” It’s a love song that has the ability to capture the moment of excitement at the early moment of love. “Love… don’t give me that lonesome love… I’d follow you anywhere. You’re the hook of my heart.” It’s about how that hook then keeps us together. It’s a great love song and definitely far from convention.
“Sleepwalker” and “Take the Fall” are both songs worthy of being on the album, but I want to finish with the last two tracks on the album. There’s something about the chord structure and vocals on “Older” that make it one of my favorites here. I can relate to the concept that “we are getting older.” The song is the kind that listeners can tell the writer just had to write. Not all songs work that way, but there’s an urgency to the message in the song. “Let our story lead the song.” It’s transcendent and important; people should listen to this song.
The finale “Sophia” is a bit different than the rest of the album, but the synth heavy background sounds give the track an expressive aesthetic, befitting the end of a palpably existential album. Referencing Sophia, the Pagan goddess of wisdom, the song has what feels like a spiritual element to it. “Take me to the city gate where wisdom sings her songs. I’ll take my notes and I’ll leave.” Interesting.
It’s evident that in the songwriting process the members of Cathedral Pearls sought to struggle with difficult emotions and situations in life. While there are some moments of pondering, there are others of proclamation. All in all, the album is full of enjoyable sounds. It is for fans of independent music broadly, but especially for folks that enjoy synth rock and mood setting music. It’s far from standard fare around here at EarToTheGround, but Cathedral Pearls have quality musicianship and great vocals, so we had to give them a spin.