Friday, February 17, 2012

Cardinal Returns With Hymns

Talk about long waits for second albums. It's been so long since Cardinal released their legendary debut album it was a century ago. So long ago, in fact, there are kids that will hear this album that weren't even born when their debut was released. Just how long was it? It was eighteen years ago, they released their legendary self titled opus and it seems like an eternity. If you were around in 1994, this album had such a huge buzz about that it was inescapable and its impact is still being felt today. An instant indie pop classic it laid the blueprint for bands that came to epitomize the chamber pop movement and make it their own (just ask Belle and Sebastian).

Now, in 2012, Richard Davies and Eric Matthews have reunited and released Hyms, a record that raises the bar once again and puts chamber pop back on center stage. With songs that are warm, fragile, and feature more multipart harmonies you could ever imagine Hymns is a melodic treasure. This is an album that gently rocks its way across the ten songs that make it up and proves that Davies and Matthews still have the ability to write amazing songs no matter how much time passes. It may have been eighteen years since their debut but it feels like yesterday and the songs are still strong, bright, and so good you have to listen to them twice. From strings to horns, to electric guitars to pianos and everything in between Cardinal utilizes anything at its disposal to give its brand of chamber pop emotional and musical impact. The sounds might be soft, but the hooks are huge and the songs are absolutely irresistible. Put it this way, this is what Burt Bacharach would sound like if he was indie.

Hymns is an amazing record. It's beautifully recorded, melodically solid, and tunefully unforgettable. The songs are packed with emotion and heart and have a fond affection of the lush productions and minor psychedelics of the 60's. Hymns is so well done and so endearing that it's hard not to love. If you were to ask me if it was worth the wait to have this album before me, my answer would be, "heck yes." That being said, I really hope it's not another 18 years before their third album is released as I'll be a card carrying member of AARP and close to retirement.

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