Recording information: Abbey Road Studios; Box and Eve Studios, Stockport; Real World Studios.
Given their flair for moody, artfully composed pop, it's no surprise that Cat's Eyes detoured into score work between Treasure House and their self-titled debut. Their music for Peter Strickland's eerily erotic The Duke of Burgundy was rightfully acclaimed, so much so that it may have put Rachel Zeffira and Faris Badwan on the map more than Cat's Eyes did. The Duke of Burgundy's influence lingers on Treasure House's beautiful production and arrangements, which use their classical leanings in more traditional and more experimental ways with equal flair. Resplendent with strings, harp, and reeds, the album's title track has a cinematic magic that feels like a bridge between the score and the rest of this album, while "Girl in the Room" is a reverie worthy of John Barry and "Teardrops" channels the eerie calm of '60s and '70s orchestral pop. Elsewhere, the layers of layers of caressing vocal harmonies, distortion, and trumpet on "Names on the Mountains" add a surreal quality to the song's meditations on loss and remembrance; this song and the quietly spellbinding "Everything Moves Towards the Sun" suggest that Cat's Eyes may just be the true heirs to Broadcast's legacy. Though it plays a smaller role on Treasure House, Badwan and Zeffira's love for '60s pop and rock is alive and well, and the duo find even more nuances in those sounds than they did before. "Standoff" is a showcase for Badwan that feels like a throwback not only to that decade's surf and garage-rock heyday, but also to the Horrors' earliest days (with even more theatricality, believe it or not). The fabulous girl-group pastiche "Be Careful Where You Park Your Car" is that song's flipside, with plunging riffs and hand claps setting the scene perfectly for Zeffira's pouty vocals. Indeed, Cat's Eyes slip into their roles on each of Treasure House's songs effortlessly, not least because the stories in their songs are more vivid than ever. "Chameleon Queen" is an unusual combination of mood and sound, with Badwan singing about just how little he cares about a former lover over poignant chamber pop that suggests otherwise. Meanwhile, "Drag" is a classic tale of star-crossed love taken to psychedelic heights. While Cat's Eyes still borrow from a wide range of influences, they do it so well, and with such a sense of wonder, that Treasure House is their most distinctive album yet. ~ Heather Phares