Catnip – Here We Go Again

Catnip
Here We Go Again

It’s not often that we get singles for review here at DOA, mostly because many independent labels can’t afford to mass-produce a single in addition to the run of the full-length, and most independent releases only chart on college radio stations, which are usually more than glad to give all the songs on an album a spin. Catnip are fortunate. Hailing from Australia, they’ve had much luck recording and releasing their music with the help of grants from government arts programs. Arts Victoria, much like the BBC in England, is a government program that has twice issued grants to Catnip for the purpose of recording and releasing their material, and the Here We Go Again single is being shipped out worldwide to generate excitement for Catnip’s upcoming full-length, Falling.

The “brain” of Catnip is the appropriately named Richmond Brain, who crafts impressively dense nebulas of sound using lap steel, guitar and analog synth. Greg Ryan weaves a subtle drumbeat through the haze, and vocalist Nerida Trask muses detachedly in a sleepy Hope Sandoval croon. The album single, “Here We Go Again,” takes a page right out of the Sigur Rós playbook. Sounding remarkably like “Svefn G Englar,” the track is a beautiful, slowly smoldering slab of space pop built upon ebbing guitar and synth drones and augmented with supernatural lap steel and that ethereal, echoey vibraphone ding utilized in the referenced Sigur Rós track. Though they may have borrowed a few ideas here and there, Catnip are hardly a rip-off band. “Aquamarine” utilizes more clearly stated guitar and bass work, and “Mirror” adds a subtle and haunting cello line to the song’s synth-heavy sound. The single wraps up with an “Ebo Remix” of “Here We Go Again,” which doesn’t sound a whole lot different from the original, with some subtle guitar and lap steel work subtracted and more emphasis placed on the drone elements of the track.

Here We Go Again proves to be a tantalizing peek at what Catnip are preparing to unleash on the world. While not really innovative, Catnip approach the dream-pop genre with enough confidence in their sound to separate them from the faceless crowd. Like any album heavy on the ambience, the rich production calls for the use of headphones to get the maximum effect. At the moment, I can’t think of many things more relaxing than taking a few deep breaths, drowning out the background din of my dorm room, and letting these four Catnip tracks slowly leech into my skull.