Personnel: Rob Pursey (vocals); Amelia Fletcher (vocals).
Indie pop legends Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey have an indie pop musical partnership that stretches back to Heavenly in the '80s, through to Marine Research, Sportique, and, most recently, Tender Trap. They also have a long-running personal relationship, and when they moved to the country it spurred them to start writing songs together on acoustic guitars. Thus the Catenary Wires were formed. Red Red Skies is the duo's first (mini) album, and for anyone familiar with their past work, the lack of jangling electric guitars and hopped-up tempos might be a shock to the system. Instead, there are gently strummed guitars, subtle keyboards, the occasional quiet electric guitar line, gentle percussion, and bits of bells or melodica framing Fletcher and Pursey's vocals. The two sound wonderful together, with Fletcher's airy tone blending nicely with Pursey's Lee Hazlewood-ian croon. The songs focus on life's smaller disappointments and bummers with a fragile tenderness that's very much in line with their past projects, but songs like "Too Late, I Love You" and the very lovely "The Records We Never Play" have a naked honesty that's new. Maybe it's the lack of jangle and crash surrounding her, but Fletcher has never sounded as fragile or quietly intense before. Not all of the album reaches the same emotional levels, as there are a few happy little pop tunes like "Like a Fool" and "Intravenous" to keep toes tapping happily. Red Red Skies is a well-balanced 26 minutes of sweetness and light, heartbreak and gloom, delivered with a light touch and the duo's reliably adept melodic skills fully intact. ~ Tim Sendra