Any band that pens a song about Rita Ora and then receives the seal of approval from the subject herself is doing pretty well, to be honest – and having plenty of fun in the process. Catholic Action were afforded the ultimate endorsement for their buzz-sparking number named after the pop star last year, and they’ve not looked back since. That alone suggested they might just have a great debut album in them when it came to it, and In Memory Of doesn’t disappoint.
Releasing the aforementioned track so confidently was a smooth move. In Memory Of moves just as smoothly, kicking off with ‘L.U.V’, a toe-tapping, instantly satisfying opener that at the very outset sounds suspiciously but entertainingly like an accelerated, modern indie rock reworking of ‘Spirit in the Sky’. It’s the first of eleven incredibly assured tracks.
Appropriately, ‘Doing Well’ is among them. Just one of many high points, it does a fine job of showing off the Glaswegians’ expertly blended combination of groove-oozing, hook-laden goodness and natural-sounding swagger. The term ‘post-punk revival’ – or even ‘post-punk revival revival’, such is the stage we’re at – springs to mind and no one would criticise you for quickly crying Franz Ferdinand, not least the band themselves who are, unsurprisingly, fans of Alex Kapranos and co. But that’s only one compliment that Catholic Action are more than worthy of.
A certain franticness and sombreness at different points here seem to chime in perfect tandem with the nature of the times. The former is perfectly exemplified on bouncy, boisterous, bite-sized standout ‘Propaganda’, the latter by the melodically gloomy ‘Black and White’ – “Black and white but mostly black,” begins Chris McCrory, a lyrical highlight. For that – and in case any comparisons to the bona fide legends of 21st Century Glasgow indie rock run the risk of swiftly assigning these four to a pigeonhole – Catholic Action are very much a band ‘of now’. The landscape may have changed, and it’s undoubtedly harder for groups like them to break out on the same scale as a decade or so ago, but that’s not to say they can’t compete to become leaders in their field. Don’t pay too much attention to any funereal connotations of the album’s title; this is ultimately a bright beginning.
Live: 100 Club – 2nd November