EP Review: Love, The Madness // Cate

One of the bright spots of 2020 is the number of strong releases from new artists,  carving out their path in the industry despite limits to their live gigging opportunities. The latest is the debut six track extended play from London based Canadian Cate, with her intriguingly titled Love, The Madness. Intriguing, because of that comma.  I pressed play expecting an EP dedicated to the madness of love, curious as to whether I would leave loving the madness.

The EP starts with ‘Pity Party’. The track is extremely relevant – it details the the uncertainty and loneliness of leaving home for the first time. A song that could echo around the rooms of student accommodation across the land: “There’s dirt on my white shoes, I live in a living room”.  For Cate herself, this track is particularly relevant given that she recently made a sudden move from her Canadian home to relocate to London. Whilst I personally love the lyrics and understand the upbeat party tempo, I think the arrangement somewhat spoils this number. Whereas the acoustic version on Youtube is so raw and emotional, so much of that is lost in the production here. 

Thankfully, ‘All Talk’ strips back the production and Cate’s voice shines through against simple piano and guitar backing.  The song describes thoughts on a toxic relationship and how the singer wants to say so many things but cannot bring herself to do so.  The lyrics echo with wants and maybes, concluding in her voice cracking with emotion as she sings the poignant line “I wish I wasn’t all talk.”

‘4 AM’ is the lead track from the EP and simply sparkles with the staccato guitar and handclap percussion. Spoken segments echo late Taylor Swift tracks, furthering the depth of Cates creations.  The lyrics are about trying to persuade someone to “come over, its only friendship we’ll risk” even though “you got a girl back home”.  There are enough little twists and turns in this tune to make it a really standout pop song. Irresistibly catchy, I can imagine the person the message is aimed at is already starting their car “it doesn’t even matter how long is your drive”.

‘Heavyweight’ is a beautifully sung intimate ballad where we really get a sense of Cate’s voice. Here, the production is stunning – the piano being the only real accompaniment as Cate sings in a self deprecating manner about not being good enough for someone.  Despite the subject matter, the harmonies lift the mood.  In many ways, whilst their style is very different, the ability to brighten serious subjects reminded me of Holly Humberstone’s Falling Asleep at the Wheel EP.

Cate again uses spoken word throughout ‘Funny Story’ and it adds to the likability of a track that recounts a drunken night out. This isn’t about regrets, this is about embracing our stories. The production is relatively standard synth driven fare but the honest, don’t give a f**k attitude of the lyrics mean it transcends the arrangement. 

‘If I need to’ reminds me of some of fellow Canadian, Avril Lavigne’s strongest ballads. The track is almost acoustic given the softly understated piano. Cate’s voice varies between gravely and sweetness, a perfect ending to the EP.  For a collection of songs that talk about independence and the emotions of personal growth, it is fitting to end with a track that talks about living her own life “and if I need to, come back home”.

Love, The Madness is indeed about love.  It is about many differing types of love in what is ultimately a journey driven by honesty and raw relatability. Once I got past the disappointing production of the opening track, it would be madness not to love the personal reflections so delicately poured into this EP. With this collection, Cate announces her arrival and makes me look forward to the days when I can see these tracks performed live.

Words by Andrew Butcher

Visit Andrew’s blog here.

Image by Sej Jheeta

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