Cardinal - Hymns

‘Hymns’ is so inoffensive and pleasant sounding that it barely registers.

Label: Fire Records

Rating: 5

The notion of taking an incredibly long time to release a follow up album can do wonders for any self-respecting band. Look at The Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine and, erm, Guns n’ Roses. The interim period can create all manner of intrigue and wonder surrounding the band’s activities – has the drummer really succumbed to a chronic glue addiction? Is the new album really influenced by jungle, Pantera and Bucks Fizz?

Well, the eighteen years between Cardinal’s eponymous debut and ‘Hymns’, their follow-up, has seen guitar-based indie rock take a bit of a beating at the hands of all manner of genres and micro-genres but it doesn’t seem to have registered with Cardinal. This doesn’t mean that this is a bad album by any means, it’s just so inoffensive and pleasant sounding that it barely registers.

If anything, Cardinal resemble an American/Australian band trying to sound British. Clearly Anglophiles, you can hear traces of the Beatles, the Kinks, ELO – essentially the canon of British power pop. Heady touchstones but Cardinal don’t offer anything to the mix. It’s easy to describe the album as packed full of pop gems (‘Northern Soul’, ‘Carbolic Smoke Ball’) but we’ve heard all of this before. The time is rife for pillaging all manner of musical influences and Cardinal are suffering from not doing enough homework. In fact, the anodyne nature of the songs on offer throughout ‘Hymns’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Friends soundtrack. I’d love to finish this review with something even mildly positive to say about this album but I can’t. I’ve forgotten the entire thing already.