Enigmatic artist Catbells recently released her debut EP, Wilderness, a sumptuous blend of dreamy, wistful shoegaze and alt-pop. A bit of an introvert, Catbells always appears wearing a cat’s mask, i.e., her doppelganger or alter-ego, allowing her to articulate vulnerability and intimacy by means of her alternative self.
Catbells borrowed her distinctive name from Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. Her lo-fi gloomy girl sound, influenced by ‘60s folk music amalgamated with retro tints of ‘90s shoegaze, immerses listeners in soft, bewitching timbres and luxurious textures travelling on moody suffusions of nostalgia and creamy sensations.
Growing up in New England, she began playing the piano at the age of five, adding guitar to her repertoire in her early teens, followed by writing poignant songs dripping with heartache. On the heels of playing with several bands, she decided to go solo.
Encompassing three tracks, Wilderness begins with the title track, opening on low-slung sad guitars riding potent, crunching percussion attended by a deep, reverberating bassline. Rich and crystalline, Catbells’ sublime voice imbues the lyrics with longing flavours of regret and loss.
“Fade” rolls out on platinum, jangly-lite guitars travelling on an infectiously pushing rhythm. Patinas of gleaming colouration give the song gliding energy as Catbells’ exquisitely deluxe vocals infuse the lyrics with polished, graceful hues mirroring feelings of lost love.
Catbells explains “Fade,” sharing, “The song really wrote itself and the music needed to match the feeling of how the words felt. Few people are lucky enough to escape the feeling of a completely broken heart and feeling like the person you loved so much just moved on like it was nothing, leaving you left there with a hole where your heart once was.”
“I Wish,” at once reminiscent of Chris Isaak and Tracy Chapman, features a slowly undulating melody made up of pensive colours weaving into a melancholic soundscape topped by the gentle sigh of Catbells’ affluent voice. Radiant harmonies give the song rinses of yearning radiance, drifting on gossamer tendrils.
Simultaneously delicate and pungent, Wilderness embodies a sense of imminence, profound emotions, and complex moods, all crowned by the opulent, expressive voice of Catbells.