Perfect As Cats: A Tribute to The Cure
Label: Minimal Vinyl Records
When I popped disc one of Perfect As Cats in my laptop the other night, I was taken for quite the ride. Within seconds, I felt dismayed, let down. Minutes later, I loved it; and then, I hated it again.
Super-indie label Minimal Vinyl Records takes a stab at honoring super-’80s, super-emo band The Cure and sometimes doing likewise to my ears. This two-disc, 33-song set of covers includes electronic distortions, psychedelic trips, pop ballads, alternative grooves and everything in-between. Sounds like a good idea, right? Oh, how wrong you are. Though there are some great interpretations on here, the entire affair feels slap-dash and the choice of bands too random.
The first disc begins Xu Xu Fang’s rollercoaster ride of an attempt at “Fascination Street.” It starts completely distorted, devoid of any similarity of the original song. Once the bass guitar and flute enter, the listener is taken right back to 1989’s classic, Disintegration. Barbara Cohen’s vocals slink on at a pace that would give Robert Smith a run for his money; she sings with a sullen tone and sneaky warmth that makes this worthy of the Gothic Seal of Approval. The album takes a sharp left with Indian Jewelry’s take on their ’84 dance single, “The Walk”. The cover is, most simply put, an un-danceable hodgepodge of samples of people yelling and drum kits. It sounds more like a bad Nine Inch Nails record than anything else.
Luckily, the disc has several moments of redemption with Astrid Quay’s version of “The Caterpillar”, Voyager One’s funky attack on “M” and a “Pictures of You” that is suggestive of the ’30s French jazz scene. Unfortunately, the closer, “All Cats Are Grey” is incredibly unimaginative and overtly noisy with less reason than those lame singing bass plaques.
The only name on this tribute that I recognized on the back cover belonged to underground greats-turned-mainstream so-sos, The Dandy Warhols. Their go at “Primary” from 1981’s Faith is quite uneventful; name recognition only goes so far. They should have switched track positions with Veil Veil Vanish’s instrumentally tight “The Upstairs Room.” Already a Cure classic, it goes unharmed here with an instrumentally tight, post-punk makeover; plus the award for Best Robert Smith Sound-a-like, which can be easily handed over to Veil vocalist Keven Tecon.
The second disc takes a smaller amount of risks than its red-headed stepbrother (sorry, redheads), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make its share of mistakes. Among the fuck-ups are a badly mixed “Hot Hot Hot”, Katrine Ottosen’s electronically clumsy and melodically sparse “The Love Cats” and a noisy and uncomfortable “Funeral Party” by Jesu. Ignoring the blunders of the latter half of the tribute, it is exponentially better. The covers do much more justice and sonically, they are much more engaging. Also, more attention seems to have been paid to track progression and placement. Your best bet is (sans a few tracks) to chuck the whole first disc.
Cure fans will be satisfied with the choice of songs, but when it comes to how they were treated, it’s hard to see that purists will be pleased. I would have liked to see the addition of the wrenching classic, “Boys Don’t Cry” and the rarity “More Than This,” but with the plethora of crap abounding on the album, I was surprised just to get “Love Song”, and the problem is… that’s saying a lot.
by Cameron Mason