Barry Adamson, Back to the Cat

Terry Staunton

By Terry Staunton

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Barry Adamson has been fashioning cinematic soundscapes for close to three decades now, either as a solo artist, with Magazine or the Bad Seeds, and each subsequent release has only increased in grandeur. Back To The Cat, which premiered in late 2007 on the London stage, is his most ambitious yet, an adventurous sonic trawl across the underbelly of an imagined city littered with vagabonds and ne'er-do-wells. It's like Scott Walker reading aloud from Raymond Chandler.

More songs from the seedier side of town.

"Shadow of Death Hotel" and "Walk on Fire" could be self-contained four-minute noir movies, the echoing trumpets, staccato guitar figures and chilling organ flourishes punctuating every line of dialogue. At times Cat recalls The The or Adamson's old employer Nick Cave, but mostly it's the sound of a fertile mind and a restless musical spirit turning over the grubbiest stones for clues to society, sexuality, identity and race. It's an eye-opening hybrid of pulp fiction and pop culture and arguably his most complete and accessible album to date.