Sometimes on social networking sites, people will post excerpts of their favorite songs because they find them to be altruistically moving or especially inspirational. They think it's meaningful, and no one corrects them so they run with it. Lyrics are very important to this sect of the population For whatever reason, they derive immense amounts of meaning from what they hear. They apply their own standards to everything they come in contact with, and if it agrees properly then they like it, at least momentarily. If it's too jarring, raw, or real, however, then it is shunned and denounced. This isn't a judgment piece, though. This kind of behavior in the masses will always happen, and to fret over it would only cause sleepless nights. They can't be stopped. Before this wordy introduction goes to waste, it is time for me, the writer, a generally non-lyrics person, to say that the lyrics on Cass McCombs' Catacombs are damn inviting.
The words for the songs on this record almost work better on paper. Leafing through the album insert, a listener can pick up tiny buds of nuance from Cass McCombs the writer. For instance, the usage of "uh," on the second track "Prima Donna". The line goes, "Now struck dumb/the next call she-/uh, picked up", and in print it may appear peculiar but in song it seems so, necessary. There's also the maddeningly ill-defined "Don't Vote", which closes with "If not choosing was accepted as a trade,/not voting would be the smartest choice you've made." Whatever is actually being discussed on that song is beyond me.
And then there's my favorite line on the whole record. It comes from a song called "Lionkiller Got Married", which apparently is supposed to serve as some sort of sequel to an older song called "Lionkiller" that was on an older Cass album. The line is repeated at the end of each verse with a minor variation. The first time it's said, the speaker says "I". The second time, the speaker says "he", and on the third ring, the speaker says "she". And the line goes, "So I'll see you next Tuesday, meant in the English way."
On first listen, there seems to be so much going on within the song that the listener is pulled in immediately. As time progresses, there is no denying that the music is interesting but at the same time it's not quite as bizarre as initially perceived. Clouding up the horizon additionally is the feeling that this record is a grower. With more listens, comes more appreciation. The pseudo-weirdness washes away, and here are these songs that are very much rooted in potential folk while also seemingly giving a nod to Morrissey. Album opener "Dreams Come True Girl" is a bit of a home run, and to boot it has vocals by Karen Black of Easy Rider fame. Other songs include pedal steel and upright bass, and one or two of them utilize synths. This album is recommended.