They say a leopard can’t change its spots. Keeping that in mind, consider the following proposition. Take Faris Badwan from The Horrors, an opera singer named Rachel Zeffira, and the desire to make warped girl-group pop. Then throw in a multi-instrumentalist, a performance in the Vatican, and a dose of psychedelia, and you’ve got Cat’s Eyes. It’s almost too surreal to be true. In fact, it’s hard to tell whether or not the entire project is in jest, especially considering the fact that half of the songs are gold, and the rest, well, are not.
Cat’s Eyes begins with a psychedelic, 60’s-indebted call-and-response duet of the same name. The distortion and reverb swirl, and the combination of Badwan’s growl and Zeffira’s soaring voice works together well to create a creepy, weirdly entrancing soundscape. The album’s strengths are warped, poppy songs like these, notably the anthemic “Over You” and “Face in the Crowd”. Another high point of Cat’s Eyes is undoubtedly “I’m Not Stupid”, a string-laden track with Zeffira’s mournful lyrics soaring over classic girl group “oohs” and “ahhs.” The slower tempo contrasts the album’s other strong tracks but maintains the pop sensibilities that allow it to continue in the best possible direction.
Unfortunately, there are as many lows as there are highs on this debut. It’s difficult to tell what Badwan was trying to accomplish on tracks such as “Bandit” and “Sooner or Later”, one attempting to integrate horns and the other featuring lethargic moaning over sinister noises and drums. Both tracks abandon the sonic aesthetics that make other parts of the album so enjoyable. That being said, Cat’s Eyes is a side-project worth looking into, because what it lacks in continuity and coherence it makes up for with some stellar pop songs and the general intrigue of such an absurd concept.