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Eat Your Own Ears at Amadeus Centre Review



"We don't want to be stuck playing Hackney every Friday. We exist outside all that," Cat's Eyes singer Faris Badwan said recently. Indeed, the debut London show of this Anglo-Canadian duo took place not in the capital's hipster east but a deconsecrated chapel in west London. Badwan, frontman of the Horrors, and Rachel Zeffira, a Vancouver-bred musician, may look overwhelmingly "Hackney" in their disheveled black hair and tight black clothes. But their sound is some way removed from the indie-guitar template.

They do employ alt-rock touchstones. Over the course of 35 minutes, Cat's Eyes stir up the spirits of Cowboy Junkies, My Bloody Valentine (who had a big effect on the Horrors' last album), and, when Badwan and Zeffira combine voices, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood. Backed by guitars and drums under a screen showing fragments of black-and-white films, they are not reinventing the wheel, but are inarguably striking.

The first few songs, which include a Pink Floyd cover, Lucifer Sam, do not have what you would call structure; instead, they derive their clout from the ethereal sighs of Zeffira and a backing vocalist. During The Best Person I Know, a shoegazing throwback of organ and vocal, the backing singer literally stares at her footwear. Are Badwan's eyes glazing over? No – he is readying himself for the distortion-pop assault of Face in the Crowd, which gives listeners a resounding thwack in the head. Then the delicate I'm Not Stupid delivers a lovely surprise: a female choir appear in the balcony to add feathery harmonies.

Despite the drifty troughs, there are enough peaks here to make Cat's Eyes a side project worth listening out for.

Caroline Suillvan

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