By Lucie Walker.
If there’s one current band that understands the meaning of evolution, it’s Streebeck. ‘Catch As Catch Can’ is startlingly different to the simplistic ‘Without A Baedeker’ in many ways, yet it’s clearly the same creators behind it, with a new attitude.
The most notable difference is the layering of music, mostly absent from the debut, with a full deck of instruments and instrumentalists – it’s immediately obvious that Streebeck is now a band rather than simply Lawrence Mackrell and his acoustic.
I’ll admit that it was live solo Mackrell that charmed me enough to buy the first album, but it only took one listen of ‘Catch As Catch Can’ to prove that the right decisions have been made for the development of Streebeck. It pleased me to hear that the raw lyrical emotions remain (my favourite line from ‘Long Goodbye’ being “I wish you’d shut your mouth, I’ve heard this all so many times”) against the backdrop of warm melodies, but it’s all one large developing step forwards – an inspired move.
The opening ‘Southlands’ is positively epic in feel compared to any of the first record, bright and much heavier than we’re used to. This, along with the similarly upbeat ‘Evening Train’ and the heart-wrenching ‘September’, are my favourite tracks from ‘Catch…’, the former two utilising the Travis-esque way of pairing pained lyrics with buoyant music – a style I have a soft spot for and one that was used to great effect in ‘Without A Baedeker’. It certainly makes for far more enjoyable listening than certain other recent artists and bands of a similar (but depressing) ilk.
‘Whilst You Lay Sleeping’ and ‘Giving Up And Selling Out’ are both further proof of how musically rich this album is, while ‘We’ll Always Have New York’ and ‘Birds’ are intensely reminiscent of the first album, maintaining a smart balance that gently introduces the fan to the new twist, and gives the new listener a treat.
This album is musical development at its finest, and it seems as if Streebeck is very aware of it. Mackrell and co have found their feet on the back of the confidence that the release of ‘Without A Baedeker’ has provided. ‘Catch As Catch Can’ is impressively fresh, complete with the feel of summer within the music, made to be enjoyed – so enjoy it.