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Album Cover Catatonia - Equally Cursed and Blessed (Blanco Y Negro)

Pop music, eh? It's a very derided term. Most of the time, the music that' popular is also utter shite - Steps, the Spice Girls, et al. But, every now and then, someone records an album of pop that brightens up your day and for an hour or so, lifts you out of the mundanity of everyday life. Catatonia's new album is one of the latter.

Kicking off with the delightfully sweet 'Dead from the Waist Down', which, admit it, you've been singing along to on the radio, "Equally Cursed…" just keeps getting better. 'Londinium' is the rather quaint anthem of small-town people lost in the big city. 'Storm the Palace' is a big, brash, tongue-in-cheek republican rant, which recommends that the Palace be turned into a bar, and the Royal Family? "Let them work in Spar!" 'Karaoke Queen' is totally seductive, a fast, bright piece of Euro-disco. If it doesn't get your feet moving, you must be dead.

'Bulimic Beats' is a delicate song about a very delicate subject, but Cerys treats it well. No catch-all phrases, just an insight into one woman's mind, with a light backing of harp strings being plucked. 'Shoot the Messenger' is a coarse, drunken, music hall style ballad a là Kurt Weill. There's hardly a note wrong on this; it is arguably that elusive 'perfect pop record'. The reason is very simple - Cerys Matthews has a voice to die for, the slightly husky, Welch-tinged power, which sings the fast songs as well as the ballads. The similarity to 60s chanteuse Melanie is still there, but who cares. Cerys is a star. She sounds the part, she looks the part, don't try and resist, go and buy this.

by Donnacha DeLong.