If you want to gain some perspective on how lacking Catherine Wheel's fifth studio LP is, just compare each of the nine songs to anything on Like Cats and Dogs, the band's collection of B-sides and outtakes. You'd be hard pressed to get the Catherine Wheel of 1992 or even 1997 to do more than sneeze at the majority of the album. Most of these songs wouldn't have seen the mixing process at any earlier point in their career. Nothing on Wishville grabs you by the throat like Adam and Eve's "Broken Nose," and nothing wins your heart after dozens of plays like "Thunderbird" or "Here Comes the Fat Controller." Though the record contains some of the most spartan arrangements the band has composed, much of it seems forced and awkward. The lyrics are no help, containing Rob Dickinson's weakest songwriting. He still tops most rock lyricists, but a high standard was set in the earlier records; these songs don't come close to matching the rest of his writing. And by firing bassist Dave Hawes prior to recording, they killed their rhythm. Dickinson, Brian Futter, and Tim Friese-Greene supply mediocre basslines throughout. You can't tell if Wishville is the sound of a band losing steam or just being too self-conscious. And while we're in Wishville, let's wish this isn't anyone's introduction to the band. They might find it to be decent modern rock, but the deck would be stacked against a newbie exploring the rest of the band's fruitful and adventurous catalog. The cover artwork may smack of Ummagumma, but here's hoping the music is just another momentary lapse of reason.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman