ARTIST: CATCH FIRE
TITLE: KARMA OWES ME A LIFETIME OF HAPPINESS
LABEL: RUDE RECORDS
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Forming in 2015, Nottingham’s Catch Fire have gone through a journey of success leading to their debut studio album. Their 2017 EP, ‘A Love That I Still Miss’, built them up higher and gained them further exposure in the press giving them the hype they needed for the release of their debut album, ‘Karma Owes Me a Lifetime of Happiness’.
The album follows a string of four singles: ‘Petrifaction’, ‘Malignance’, ‘Heist’ and ‘Fault Line’. ‘Petrifaction’, the opening track of the album, is a strong start that leads the listener down a long road of truthful emotion. Lead vocalist Miles Kent projects words of depression and a lack of independence, describing mental illness as “a blemish beneath my skull” and repeated throughout the track, the feeling that “I’m sinking here all alone in your absence”. ‘Petrifaction’ as a title links to the query asked in every chorus: “Why does everything that I touch turn to stone?” It is a song that will resonate with a certain group in the band’s fanbase; a group that desires to feel less alone with their mental health problems. This is one of a handful of songs that will use the theme of mental illness, and it is a hard-hitting and relatable one for those who are familiar with the story they’re telling.
“HARD HITTING AND RELATABLE…”
It is followed by the second single released from the album, ‘Malignance’. With a title that links straight back to being evil or negative, the song is a continuation of ‘Petrifaction’. As the previous track is about depressive thoughts, ‘Malignance’ takes the tale one step further and has inferences of death, using the effects of cancer as a metaphor to describe the growth and spread of the effect of mental illness; made obvious in the lyric of, “You might be benign but you metastasize”.
‘Malignance’ is one of the more in-depth tunes on the album, and one that the group should be proud of writing, creating, and including on their debut release. Within 2018, there has not been a shortage of songs highlighting mental illness such as depression and anxiety, but these songs are still important and the theme will never grow old or stale or overused. The mix between Kent’s softer sung vocals and louder screamed out vocals audibly expresses the two extremes of keeping to oneself in tough times, and reaching out as a last resort for help. With percussionist Ash Wain at times partially drowning out the vocals, it can be ineffective in putting the message across in a basic musical sense. However, the artistic expression that can be inferred has most likely saved this for a select group of fans and kept it a special and meaningful track.
“‘Karma Owes Me a Lifetime of Happiness’ has proven that Catch Fire are not looking to make thoughtless and unintelligent tunes.”
‘Karma Owes Me a Lifetime of Happiness’ has proven that Catch Fire are not looking to make thoughtless and unintelligent tunes. The penultimate track ‘Agnostic’ takes a spin on religion and faith, in relation to combating negativity in life. Kent references the album title in the lyrics, talking to the concept of karma to remind it “that you still owe me a lifetime of happiness”.
‘Agnostic’ contains two of the best lines in the whole album: “I just simply don’t believe in anything that I can’t see / And you’ve never done anything for me”. Those lines alone put across an image of losing faith in life improving and getting better after a downfall; karma is not working how it has been said to and happy endings are becoming less believable. Putting this near the end of the album is fitting, in a way that the listener is coming to the end of their journey through the album, and the solution is likely to never be a happy one.
Most alternative acts go the route of adding more deep detail to their music later in their careers, but Catch Fire have managed to reach a great standard – if still fallen a few steps from the top. But as a debut studio album, it is truly a leap in the right direction for the group. Up is surely the only direction they can go from here.