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Catatonia
Paper, Scissors, Stone
released: 08.06.01 (european)
our score: 4.5 out of 5.0

The Fruits of Rest
by: peter naldrett - u.k. correspondent

Cerys Matthews wanted to take a couple of years away from the perpetual demands of rock stardom after promoting the wearily sounding album Equally Cursed and Blessed - and so she did! The idea was that the Welsh icon would return to the business fully refreshed and produce a record that was as brimming with life as 1997’s classic International Velvet.

"I wanted a break," she said. "It was necessary to go back, read books, watch TV, play chess, go to ballet lessons, go horse riding, meet new people, cut your hair, romp in the countryside and come back with a fresh palette."

It could have gone horribly wrong, the band could have split up, she could have been forgotten, and they would have been remembered for their last, below par outing. Fortunately, it was worth taking the time off because Paper, Scissors, Stone leapfrogs over the last CD to return to the glory days of Mulder and Scully and Road Rage, providing us with zeitgeisty lyrics, cracking music and Cerys throwing herself into each and every line with gusto.

Every song on Paper, Scissors, Stone has something going for it, from the catchy "What It Is" to the haunting opener "Godspeed," to the romping "Imaginary Friend." But the real gems are the ones that stick in your head and become instant classics, none more so than "Immediate Circle" and "Stone By Stone," both recently performed live on Jools Holland’s show. And for a classic Catatonia track, check out "The Mother Of Misogyny." I defy anyone not to sing along to the "M-I-S-O-G-Y-N-Y misogyny" chorus while being moved by the serious message it has to offer.

About "Fuel," Cerys adamantly insists that the song is not about the fuel protests that rocked the nation last year, saying that she wrote the words beforehand. But the influence of the protests, which hit as Catatonia recorded the track, are obvious, especially in the line "Go ask the government you voted in on trust, where is our fuel?"

The first half of Paper, Scissors, Stone is so astonishingly good that it takes the pressure off the second half, allowing "Blues Song" and "Village Idiots" to shine in the freedom afforded to them. An over-riding theme is the anger within Catatonia with certain aspects of society, seen in "Immediate Circle," "Is Everybody Here On Drugs?" and "Arabian Derby," but thankfully the venom they spit in these tracks materialises in the form of creative excellence.

Cerys is back, she’s as good as ever and if this is the result of a couple of years playing chess and ballet dancing, then maybe everybody should have a go!

If you liked Paper, Scissors, Stone...