Tigercats - Mysteries Album Vinyl LP with MP3 Download / Gatefold CD
TRACKLISTING:1. Junior Champion
2. Laura And Cesar
3. King Of Vic
4. Globe Town
5. Call Me If You Need Me
7. Too Sad To Tell You
8. Sleeping In The Back Seat
9. So Haunted
10. Wendy And Lisa
East London’s Tigercats first release for Fortuna POP!, Mysteries, is vividly emotional and sonically expansive, blending the very best of indiepop with complex song structures, lush production and beautiful arrangements.
Tigercats combine the talents of songwriter, singer and guitarist Duncan Barrett with his brother Giles on bass, Laura Kovic on keyboards and vocals, and Jonny Evans on drums, as well as recent recruit Paul Rains from Allo Darlin’ on guitar. And on Mysteries they’re joined by living legend Terry Edwards (Gallon Drunk / Tindersticks), who contributes saxophone and trumpet on several tracks.
Mysteries is the second album from Tigercats, described by The Sunday Times in a review of their 2012 debut Isle of Dogs (Fika Recordings) as “a very, very good band…. The kind of band that make you want to be a teenager again, so they can be your band.” Isle of Dogs fizzed with jangly punk, afro rhythms and spoken word sections, while Mysteries is a sophisticated pop record, effervescent and spirited, with care and love poured into every song.
What makes a very, very good band even better? Two years of heavy touring for one, bringing them closer as a band but also pushing themselves and honing their skills. Many of the songs on the album have been live staples, starting off one way and mutating in to something totally different, giving the songs time to grow and develop before heading in to the studio. And once they did head in, bassist Giles Barrett’s day job at London’s legendary Soup Studios allowed the band nearly unlimited time to get deeper in to the recording process – so deep that it verged on insanity. As Giles says, “We took every song as far as it could possibly go. There was a lot of speeding up and slowing things down with the tape machine, and the arguments over fractions of a bpm would get heated. There were a few times the tapes were mysteriously wiped overnight."
Highlights include album opener “Junior Champion”, a pop gem in the shape of bishops, knights, kings and queens - a Bobby Fischer-referencing love song and anthem for chess fans everywhere - and “Wheezer”, of which Duncan says cagily, “I don’t want to say what this song is about, the record’s not called Mysteries for nothing. Although this one is just a small, silly mystery and it should be pretty easy to work out - the clue is in the title”. The album closer, the gorgeous, woozy “Wendy & Lisa”, sees Duncan referencing another of his musical obsessions, saying, “This is the result of reading too many terrible Prince biographies and conflating The Revolution’s private lives with my own in dreams. There is a dream logic to the song that made sense when I wrote it, but I can’t figure it out now.”
Although Duncan is the vocalist for most of the songs, Laura takes the lead on two, the dreamy Saint Etienne-esque “Laura & Cesar” (based on two minor characters in Roberto Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives), and the forthcoming single, the fabulous “Sleeping in the Backseat”, of which Duncan says, “I’ve always wanted to write a good driving song, but I don’t have a license so this is probably the closest I’ll get.”
Mysteries is the sound of a band of outstanding musicians fulfilling their potential and using their talents in the studio to realise their musical vision, retaining their infectious hooks, their heart and their sheer danceability, and coupling it with a bright new contemporary sound. Superbly crafted and full of personality, Tigercats’ second album suggests that they won’t remain a mystery much longer.
"With Isle of Dogs, Tigercats arguably produced the perfect debut album. In garnering a rare 10/10 from us it seemed to perfectly encapsulate 20-something urban life as each song meandered across the records shops, bars and venues of their native East London. Now signed to Fortuna Pop and with Allo Darlin’s Paul Rains in their ranks they have also managed to nail the potentially tricky second album too.
Second albums can be a minefield. So many bands just try and repeat their debut hoping the sound will still be fresh, while others try too hard to change, veering off into experimental and unsuitable areas. Here Tigercats have met that challenge by ensuring their sound has moved onto the next level, while at the same time sticking true to their original ethos. It sounds simple enough, but so few bands manage it.
So how has the sound changed? Firstly, it is more polished, thanks to the band able to rack up a considerable amount of hours at Soup Studios, where bassist Giles Barrett works.
Secondly, there is real ambition here sonically. Not content, as so many indie pop bands are ,with a simple sound they’ve drafted in Gallon Drunk’s Terry Edwards to supply saxophone and horns across the album. This perfectly completes their core drums, bass, guitar, keyboards sound and sets them further apart from the pack. Rains too really adds some polish to the guitars, as he does so well in his day job with Allo Darlin’.
The third and perhaps most welcome change is the elevation of keyboardist Laura Kovic’s role. While on Isle of Dogs her vocal duties were largely confined to final track Johnny, here she is everywhere. She not only duets perfectly with lead singer and songwriter Duncan Barrett across the album but has lead vocals on two tracks, Laura & Cesar and Sleeping in the Backseat. It’s a smart move by the band, really adding depth to the songs with her softer vocals perfectly matching Barrett’s. At times with the horns and Kovic’s vocals there is even a Prefab Sprout quality to their tracks, which here seem more romantic, albeit in a sardonic way thanks to Barratt’s clever lyrics. Junior Champion for example manages the zenith for indie-geeks everywhere, of being simultaneously a love song and ode to chess.
In our review of Isle of Dogs we said Tigercats were an indie pop band you can dance to. For Mysteries they emerge as an indie pop band you can actually first dance to at a wedding – and there are not many of those bands around. With this amount of progress they have set the bar high indeed for album number three."
(Neon Filler, 9/10)
"Tigercats create simple music with outstanding style and beauty. Mysteries consists of soothing vocals, serenading guitars and bass lines that are plucked with perfection. Although Tigercats could quite easily be likened to other indie bands from the past; the stripped down tone makes the complex structure of the songs appear simple and not shrouded by the many other instruments on the album. The sophisticated sound and the occasional embellishment is what makes this album so special.
‘Junior Champion’ provides a fun opening to the album as the glorious guitars build gracefully to harmonious vocals from Duncan Barret and Laura Kovik. Towards the end of the track, Terry Edwards makes his first appearance on the album with his saxophone and trumpet. Edwards contributes to several tracks on Mysteries giving an impression that Tigercats are already an established band. By including Edwards’ skills on the trumpet and saxophone and manipulating their instruments in such a way, Tigercats manage to separate themselves from other indie-pop bands currently putting out albums. ‘King of Vic’ pushes boundaries with its repetitive hooks and minimalist drumming. “I feel just like a child” sings Barret during ‘Globe Town’: a statement that contrasts with the mature and sophisticated sound that rings from Tigercats.
The maturity from Tigercats glistens throughout Mysteries and is particularly evident in ‘Sleeping in the Back Seat’. It’s a love song but it’s not the norm. Kovik’s sensational vocals woo the listener when singing, “Lay your head next to mine” as she and Barret focus on the simple, yet wonderful elements of love. They ignore the complicated nature of the emotion and the song seems to be fueled by ever-lasting love rather than passion or lust, that so many others seem to dwell and dwindle on. ‘Call Me If You Need Me’ and ‘Wheezer’ have funky hooks that are clear and precise, providing a perfect opportunity to drift off into a, peaceful hypnotic state.
I’m looking outside whilst writing this and it is gloomy, dull and boring. Despite the slight solemn tone present through the large majority of the album, it becomes increasingly difficult to prevent yourself from leaving the normal gloom of the day and falling into a dream of sun, sea and beauty. Tigercats introduce new elements to an over-subscribed genre and make something intricately detailed sound peaceful and absorbing."
"East London outfit Tigercats’ latest indie-pop offering showcases the burgeoning talents of songwriter, singer and guitarist Duncan Barrett with his brother Giles on bass, Laura Kovic on keyboards and vocals, and Jonny Evans on drums, as well as recent recruit Paul Rains from Allo Darlin’ on guitar, and joined by living legend Terry Edwards (Gallon Drunk / Tindersticks), who contributes saxophone and trumpet on several tracks.
Mysteries has all the vital ingredients that go into the making of a perfectly formed pop record – effervescent instrumentation, spiked with lyrical invention, melodic simplicity and infectious hooks. The 10-track set fizzes with the spaciousness of early Avi Buffalo and the wonky, melodic joyfulness of Ariel Pink, which on paper might sound like a bit of an odd blend, but credit where it’s due, Tigercats have taken disparate musical elements and carved them into a record that brims with the effortless ease of a teenage pop record, but also bears the unmistakable hallmark of well-honed craftsmanship.
Album highlights are the gleaming pop jewels of album opener Junior Champion, the mysterious Wheezer and Laura Kovic’s dreamy Saint Etienne-esque vocals on Laura & Cesar."