Signed by Domino a couple of years ago, We Are Catchers, aka Peter Jackson (no, not that one), was given a lot of creative freedom to make the record he wanted to make. An artist could be forgiven for crumbling under the weight of that kind of expectation. However, with this debut, the Liverpudlian has kept a cool head and, with the assistance of former The Coral man Bill Ryder-Jones, produced an album that is so enjoyable and easy-going that it would be easy to assume that this was bashed out in a matter of weeks rather than months.
We Are Catchers is the sound of someone who knows exactly what it is they want to achieve in precise detail, even down to its intimate tone and organic production. Echo and reverb dominate every detail, from the distant vocals to an acoustic piano that sounds as if it’s been recorded with second-hand equipment. Additionally, it gives off a home-made quality that is rather endearing and gives the album a personality. On the surface, there’s very little that changes in the instrumentation – piano, guitar and drums dominate – and, whilst something fresh every now and again wouldn’t go amiss, it speaks volumes that We Are Catchers is still a thoroughly enjoyable listen nonetheless.
Aside from the nuances of its production, it’s the sunny, accessible and downright songs that should win people over. The highlights are almost exclusively to be found in the album’s first half. It captivates right from the start with Waters Edge, with everything from the lyrics to its floaty vibe giving a clear indication of the dreamy path that Jackson is intent on heading down. What follows is simply a continuation of that winning formula: wistful tunes to get lost in. Tap Tap Tap is a superb piece of refined pop that bursts with vitality and is swiftly followed by If You Decide, a charming and peaceful ballad, and the breezy and radio-friendly Isabella.
The remaining five tunes are not as attention-grabbing the first time around, by way of comparison, but further listens reveal some interesting aspects of Jackson’s songwriting that aren’t initially obvious. Thousand Steps is more minimal in approach and, despite not having the punch of the more engaging tracks, just about stands out. There is much weariness to be found on Richer Man, buried underneath its crashing drums and grandiose melody. Where Are We acts as the final salvo, recalling some of the wooziness of Doves‘ debut in the process.
We Are Catchers comes across as the sort of artist that won’t be making any adventurous leaps soon; it’s evident that Jackson is comfortable with this style of pop and, whilst not particularly groundbreaking and a little low on variety, the songs he writes have enough character and atmosphere to make this a worthy listen, with plenty of hooks and melodies to swoon over and an overall aesthetic that is warm and inviting. This works as both a confident and assured introduction as well as an ideal record for the long, hot days ahead.