It’s hard to believe that the last full-length from gritty Montreal punks The Sainte Catherines was 2006’s “Dancing For Decadence.” In the lengthy stretch between albums, the band members have likely been doing at least one of two things- either playing in Yesterday’s Ring (the bluesy- country side project that happens to have most of The Sainte Catherines as band members) or reflecting heavily on life. Both of these things are apparent on the latest Sainte Catherines release, “Fire Works.”
On first listen, fans might have difficulty believing that Fire Works is a Sainte Catherines release, and not from Yesterday’s Ring. But alas, Yesterday’s Ring were laid to rest last year, though their sound lives on in their alter ego. Gone is much f the straight-up furious punk rock of which the band became well-known for. In its place is a much more slowed-down alt-country fusion that requires some getting used to.
Fans who devoured “Dancing For Decadence” might not feel the same way towards “Fire Works.” Upon a first listen to the album, some might just decide to give up on the band- but don’t despair yet, this is an album that gets better with each listen. Once fans put aside their disappointment at not buying “Dancing For Decadence Volume 2,” they will definitely find some gems in “Fire Works.”
The lead track, “We Used To Be In Love,” is a perfect choice for an opening track. It is one of the great standout tracks on the album, and showcases the band’s much more mature sound this time around. Hugo Mudie’s distinctive growl has been tuned down, and fits in perfectly with the new sound direction of the band. Later tracks “BLR vs. Cancer (Fuck Off Cancer Song)” and “Reinventing Ron Hexall” are also fantastic tracks off the album, proving that sometimes, slowing down isn’t shutting down. It’s true that somewhere in the middle the album kind of blends in to one long, indistinguishable track, but the greatness of the standout tracks compensates and proves to fans that they shouldn’t give up on the band quite yet.
If the past years have shown anything to the Sainte Catherines, it’s that being in a band isn’t the be-all-end-all of life. In fact, the band almost appear to be bitter about discovering that maybe a life in music isn’t what they wanted after all. While some rewarding aspects of life are the result of hard work, some of the simpler things can be even better- like developing relationships, having a family, having a normal life.
Though it will take a few listens before the greatness of “Fire Works” is revealed in full, after this point is reached it will undoubtedly become a fan favourite. The Sainte Catherines have truly gotten the best of both worlds- they can have elements of Yesterday’s Ring and The Sainte Catherines without the gruelling tour schedule that accompanies being a part of more than one band. “Fire Works” is ambitious, mature, and a step in a very new and great direction for The Sainte Catherines.