wears the trousers magazine

elizabeth & the catapult: taller children (2009)
August 2, 2009, 11:55 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Elizabeth & The Catapult
Taller Children ••
Verve Forecast

The only shocking aspect behind Elizabeth & the Catapult’s Taller Children is that it is produced by Mike Mogis. That a single man can fall from such a great height with one whimsical bound is quite frankly a little terrifying. We can only hope that it’s a small blip. Otherwise if musical talent and prowess is truly this fickle, perhaps we should reconsider our outlook on music in general. To be fair, the ultimate failure to spark any kind of enjoyment or sense of value is not entirely Elizabeth & The Catapult’s fault. Neither is it entirely down to the techniques Mogis has employed. It’s a little bit of both. On the one hand, the band has created a kitsch-jazz sound worthy only of a deflated, “Oh, I see”. On the other, the songs that appear to have sincere intentions have been battered into submission by Mogis.

The end result is a peculiar mixture of Joss Stone (‘Momma’s Boy’), Amy Winehouse (‘Hit The Wall’), Maria Taylor (‘Apathy’), Katie Melua (‘Right Next To You’) and Rilo Kiley (‘The Hang Up’ and ‘Complimentary Me’), but only if you deduct all that is original about the aforementioned artists. For example, take the relatively impressive track ‘Apathy’. It’s a nice song, and if singer Elizabeth Ziman had anything about her it would play as a masterpiece. Unfortunately, her wafer thin voice strays too far into the mundane and all trace of genius is lost. ‘Complimentary Me’ suffers a similar fate (Jenny Lewis would do wonders with it), and then there’s the title track: subtract the distracting glock and astonishingly bad vocal distortion two minutes in and you’re presented with a potential hit.

Salvation finally comes in the form of ‘Everybody Knows’: a twirling, soaring classic – unfortunately, a classic is exactly what it is as Leonard Cohen originally wrote and recorded it for his 1988 release I’m Your Man. It’s a telling shame. To put it bluntly, this album is pretty boring. That it has not been released on Saddle Creek (as you might assume) says a lot. If the label were to put out Taller Children, they would simply be repeating on us. But rather than the albums we have come to love, we’d be left with a regurgitated mess of all that we’d prefer to forget.

Tiffany Daniels
UK release date: 08/06/09; www.myspace.com/elizabethandthecatapult

‘Momma’s Boy’ [live]


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