The Sainte Catherines – Fire Works

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

The Sainte Catherines

Fire Works - Anchorless Records / Union 2112 Records

I’ve never been a huge fan of The Sainte Catherines. Yeah, they’re good, but I could never get behind Dancing for Decadence. Something just wasn’t right and I don’t know what it was but it made The Sainte Catherines fall into oblivion in my mind.

Hugo Mudie’s side project, Yesterday’s Ring, changed that and made me want to hear more from Mudie. Their CD – Diamonds in the Rough – was nearly perfect. An amalgamation of country, punk, Celtic, folk and more worked together for an album that still finds its way into my CD player quite frequently.

Now Mudie is back with a new album for The Sainte Catherines. It’s the first album from the band in four years; and finally a Sainte Catherines album I can fully get behind.

Why can I get behind this record and not their previous one? Because Fire Works is not Dancing for Decadance part two. In fact, it’s far from it. Instead, Fire Works slows things down and falls in the middle of Dancing for Decadance and Diamonds in the Rough.  It’s a mid-tempo rocker that slowly grows on you rather than blistering fast melodic hardcore. This is still a punk rock record through and through, just delivered with more subtlety by knowing exactly when and where to hold it back.

But what makes this album so perfect is the sense of self-deprecation, regrets, anger and introspection that Mudie so effortlessly conveys.  His vocals are rough and worn, a mixture of Chuck Ragan, American Steel, Lucero,  Jawbreaker and – most notably – Leatherface; and he sings some of the best lyrics of the year. The songs are stories, deeply specific yet relatable to anyone built on tongue-in-cheeks turns of phrases and hidden references.

It reminds me of Off With Their Heads as nearly every songs sees them decrying the punk scene, what it’s done to them and the horrors of being in a band. Back To The Basements That I Love laments over their success and their yearning for basement shows again. D’ You Guys Wanna Fuckin’ Party After This? No is a cynical look at after show parties and the simple need to be alone. I Miss The Boysand Headliners Don’t Load (which sounds like a rougher No Use For A Name cut at times) retells the good and bad side of touring, respectively.  BLR Vs Cancer (Fuck Off Cancer Song) is an emotional tale of playing a cancer benefit show and No Friends is a perfectly depression song that I just love. I mean, “I got no friends any more / just people that I know / don’t call my house no more / I feel like going out / But I’ll stay home again / Cuz I don’t have no friends” is just a perfect opening line for a song.

There’s a lot of hidden gems in here – be it the Joey Cape appearance on Maggie & Dave or the clever Woody Guthrie reference in Chub-E & Hank III / Vimont Stories Part II – and the more you listen to it, the more they pop up. Fire Works grows on you, building in intensity and intricacies.

Slightly more reserved than its predecessor, Fire Works is a subtle and reflective album that still packs a punch. The only real downside is that somewhat muffled recording quality that’s probably due to the fact that it was recorded without an engineer.  It’s not bad, but sometimes the recording lacks a punch as the three guitars fight over one another and a slightly crisper sound may have kicked Fire Works up a notch.