Much like their debut EP, Shock Horror!, Katrina & the Waves' self-titled 1983 album was recorded mostly live in the studio with an eye on the clock, but while the group's first LP may have been cut on an even lower budget than the EP (the album cost a mere $1,200 to make, which the bandmembers put up themselves), it's a revealing document of how much work they'd done in the year that separated the two releases. Katrina & the Waves had been playing a grueling schedule of pub gigs and dates at American military bases to pay the bills, and this album confirms that the hard work paid off -- they sounded professional and energetic on Shock Horror!, but they're much tighter and more confident and ambitious on Katrina and the Waves, and a comparison of the versions of "Going Down to Liverpool" and "Brown Eyed Son" from Shock Horror! and the re-recordings on this LP offers all the evidence one could hope for of how much they'd grown. Katrina Leskanich's lead vocals tend to slide into the histrionic when someone doesn't rein her in, but she revealed an impressive learning curve as she moved from backing vocalist to lead singer, and she clearly had the talent for the job. Kimberley Rew's guitar work is as stellar as ever, and his songwriting is clever and taut on each of these ten tunes; even bashed out quickly as it was here, "Walking on Sunshine" clearly had the ingredients that make a hit. And Vince de la Cruz and Alex Cooper were a world-class rhythm section who knew how to keep the songs moving forward with a minimum of wasted effort. Katrina and the Waves was originally recorded so the band would have something to sell at its merchandise table at shows, and the fact that it was picked up by the Canadian Attic label and became a hit in the Great White North confirms the band had the goods even when working on a shoestring budget, and that Canada clearly knows a good pop album when it hears one.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming