I’ve known Chris Catalyst for more years than I care to remember.
From the first time I saw him bouncing round shitty little pubs in shiny shirts belting out Catylyst tunes, I knew he had talent.
When he covered himself in silver paint to showcase the awesome, and hilarious, Robochrist, I knew he had drive. And when he rang me to tell me he’d joined the Sister’s of Mercy, I knew he was going to do something special.
He formed Eureka Machines, and I knew then he HAD done something special.
It’s a bit strange reviewing a mates band and, if this was Eureka’s first album I’d have been very wary. Do or Die is a cracking slab of plastic, but it still sounds like a mate’s band to me. It’s brilliant, but it’s still Chris. With Champion the Underdog, that went out of the window and Eureka Machines became an awesome band I know the members of … does that make sense? Probably not, but this is my review so I don’t care.
The Eurekas are the perfect mix of pop sensibilities and crushing riffs. What this seams to mean, more than anything, is they are often lazily compared to the Wildhearts. But, that’s only coz people don’t get out much. I can hear all the bands that influenced The Wildhearts, and most other bands I like. There’s Queen, ELO, Maiden, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Stones, Half Man Half Bisuit and The Cardiac all sloshing about on this album that does it.
Sure there are cracking riffs, sure there are multi-part harmonies, sure there are stunning, melodies – but then, that could be said of Silversun, or Jellyfish … that’s another couple of bands I can hear in this, too.
But, and this is what makes a great band, the Eureka Machines sound just like Eureka Machines.
The album starts with a crushing, but catchy riff, over which Chris barks a sporadic list all the things he loves … first time Fred Dibnar has made it into a rock tune I’ll bet … then, just when you think he’s lost the plot, the chorus kicks in with an Ebola catchy melody and harmonies so sweet they could rot your teeth. And, if you think that’s catchy, wait until you hear, These Are The People Who Live In My House, sweet baby Jesus!
I could go on at length, picking every track to bits, but there are only so many times you can say ‘super-catchy’, ‘brilliant riff’ or ‘amazing harmonies’. Every single tune on Champion the Underdog is beautifully crafted and built to last.
But don’t be fooled into thinking this is all fluffy pop-punk. There are dark moments here too, with Chris’ lyrics swinging between witty cynicism and biting black humour. He should get a medal for ‘Don’t shoot your mouth off if you’re firing blanks’.
Chris has worked hard here, being the main song writer, but his 3 band mates are equally brilliant. Wayne Insane, possibly the greatest name for a drummer ever, pounds the kit like a man possessed. He has a flair for knowing when to do his thing, and when to keep it simple.
Davros, who is looking remarkably young for a man who has been evil overlord of the Darleks for over 5 decades, is kinda Chris’ sidekick, perfectly mimicking riffs and adding amazing harmonies wherever called upon. Last up, the rubblehammer man and newest addition to the line up, Pete Human. He’s fitted right in, once again playing like a demon AND singing like an angel.
Look, I could blather on for the rest of the day about how Brilliant this album is, but just go buy it and, if you aren’t humming the chorus to This Is The Beginning Of The End Of The World by teatime, I’ll send you ten pence. OK?