From the much maligned Robochrist to Eureka Machines and with side detours in The Ginger Wildheart Band and Sisters Of Mercy amongst many others, Chris Catalyst has been a familiar face in the British rock scene throughout the last two decades.
Now, via Pledgemusic, he has released a solo album adding a more personal angle to his usual musical endeavours.
As a whole Life Is Often Brilliant mixes up everything that Catalyst has become known for throughout his career with jagged metal guitars standing alongside 90s style psychedelia a good dose of pop-rock (of the best kind) and even a hint of prog.
With these styles coming together its understandable that the album feels like a bit of a mishmash, but its one that always leads to pleasant surprises. While it starts with high gain guitars on the youthful rock ’n’ roll cliché baiting No Regrets but the end of Able Seaman it’s all soaring psyche.
What holds it all together is Catalyst’s voice that is packed with the kind of warmth one often encounters coming out of the more reasonable quarters of the north of England combined with something of Dave Grohl’s knack for rock that’s not too much for a pop audience and all with a bit of nod and wink behind it.
Most of the album takes a more personal view of things than his other output.
Cracking Up is the most overtly political I can recall hearing from Catalyst as he shares his views on England in the era of Brexit, but without getting too divisive.
Then How Do You Sleep takes a swipe at someone (or someones) he’s encountered in the music industry but this a rare moment of less positive stuff amongst the bouncy tones.
As it goes on Distance Over Time brings some Pink Floyd-ish prog to proceedings while Sticks And Stones and You Die At The End up the psychedelia some more with both 90’s ‘Madchester’ and 60’s elements coming out before Able Seamen rounds it off on a slightly low-key but still nice note.
In the end, like all solo albums of this sort, there are a few moments that verge on the self-indulgent but as a fan, as I would imagine most listeners will be, that’s kind of what these things are all about. As the rest sounds a bit like The Beatles, Suede, The Stone Roses and Foo Fighters are having a big old jam its safe to say there’s a lot to like, so Life Is Often Brilliant is often very good.