Katrina & the Waves

Katrina & The Waves, Vol. 2

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After cutting their first two 12" releases on the cheap, Katrina & the Waves enjoyed some welcome success with their self-titled 1983 album (which became a hit in Canada), and the follow-up, boldly titled Katrina and the Waves 2, found them adding a dollop of studio polish to their sound. This was a good and a bad thing; the glossier production allows some of the finer details of Kimberley Rew's songwriting and guitar work to come to the surface, but the additional backing vocals, keyboards, and horns also clutter arrangements that had been lean and straightforward on their earlier recordings, and drummer Alex Cooper was asked to share percussion duties with a Linn Drum here, and as a result the music sounds stiffer and less energetic. It doesn't help that bassist Vince de la Cruz began stepping up as a songwriter on this album, and while his three contributions aren't bad, they're derivative and don't hold a candle to Rew's best stuff. But Katrina Leskanich is a significantly better controlled and more engaging lead singer here than on Katrina & the Waves' previous album, and "Cry for Me" and "The Game of Love" find Rew exploring a retro-styled pop sound that gave the recording a new twist. (Rew also found room to revel in his eccentricities on "Maniac House," and "Red Wine and Whiskey" is strong enough to rise above its over-production.) Katrina & the Waves would find out what a really slick production was like with their next album; after they signed with Capitol Records, they re-recorded highlights from their first two albums under far glossier conditions, and it's oddly quaint to compare the simple over-production of Katrina and the Waves 2 with the big-league variations of the Capitol sessions (though the bigger and horn-infused "Walking on Sunshine" was actually an improvement on the version from their first full-length LP).

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