The Catherine Wheel was one of those bands that I always rooted for. They performed such fantastic songs, from their 1992 shoegazer classic “Black Metallic” to their 2000 rocker “Sparks Are Gonna Fly”. As one of my personal favorite bands, I always felt like the Catherine Wheel was an underdog, consistently putting out brilliant pop albums that stayed under the radar of the mainstream music masses. Behind those songs was one of the most distinctive voices in alternative rock, Rob Dickinson. His golden pipes could never be confused for anybody else, with a range of pitch and emotion that filled Catherine Wheel’s albums with the power of an emotional roller coaster. After releasing six fantastic albums, which were criminally overlooked, it has come time for Mr. Dickinson to present his debut solo album to the world, titled Fresh Wine For The Horses. Gone are the big, shimmering guitars, which gives room for the sheer power of his vocals to shine throughout the album’s eleven songs. After waiting five years for any sign of life from Dickinson, his album shows a musician in his prime, not missing a single step since his last musical effort nearly half a decade ago (besides his appearance on Jimmy Chamberlin’s record earlier this year). The album begins with the single “My Name Is Love”, a brilliant pop song overflowing with layers of gorgeous harmonies. “Oceans” is a remarkably huge song, with melodies that look back to his former band while still maintaining a sound that is remarkably fresh and powerful. One of the album’s biggest strengths is the diversity in emotion and force throughout the songs. While Fresh Wine begins with a few pop gems, Dickinson keeps the album interesting by exploring different extremes, ranging from rock anthems to acoustic ballads. “Handsome” explores both of these forces, which explodes as he launches into the chorus with pounding guitars over the harmony-filled line “but that is the way you feel.” On the other side of the spectrum, his patented vocals are the focal point of “Bad Beauty”, filling up the song while supported by little more than an acoustic guitar until the final moments, when drums and a string section lifts us out of the clouds and into the sun. Rob Dickinson has always had a gift for songwriting, keeping the perfect balance of intelligence and pop sensibility. To put it simply, this is how pop music is supposed to be made.
Fresh Wine For The Horses
POSTED August 10, 2005 12:00AM IN THE TRIPWIRE