It really isn’t that often that you come across an 18 year old running his own solo project, signed by a record label, officially releasing an EP and sounding really fucking good. Oliver Catt, a.k.a Fantasy Rainbow, is one such individual.
The new EP, entitled Teens and released today (15th August) on Tiny Lights Recordings, takes the enjoyable, laid back attitude of his previous release and adds a thick layer of maturity, angst and happy-go-lucky guitar riffs. Combining this with charmingly dark lyrics, we find ourselves listening to tales of a lost youth laden with promise of great things to come.
Youth Forever is a stunning start to the EP, with layered guitars introducing an upbeat, sunny tone whilst Catt’s lyrics create bleak idea of leaving childhood behind as he muses “It’s not as if I miss my youth but I’d give anything for one more day”. Choruses empty but for Catt’s voice allow this track to build and build as a wonderful opening.
The second offering of the EP, Sun Is A Drug, is about as anthemic as any summer song will ever be, whilst retaining all of Fantasy Rainbow’s charm and signature tones. The verses are bouncy, punchy and create the most optimistic of moods whilst the chorus begs to be sung along to in ecstasy (Or is that just me?). A favourite and a brilliant highlight.
Cool Ridge carries this care-free flow on with hazy, distorted vocals and a more prominent bass-line than previously heard. This is the track that is creating a buzz for Fantasy Rainbow, with airtime on 6 Music and XFM to name a few, and is another feel-good song wrapped in teenage angst in true Holden Caulfield style, yet I can’t help but feel that it falls ever so slightly flat in the wake of Sun Is A Drug in the sense that is a minute too long. Other than that, Catt’s lyrics are intense and perceptive - youth as the young ought to be.
The gem of this EP lies in Looks Like Up, resonating an Arcade Fire influence in memory of the area in which one grew up and how times change. The way this track seems to romantically roll along in a pleasant manner makes for truly wonderful listening and the guitar solos are just charming, calming and cool. It’s the sort of track I would like playing in the background as I sat atop a hill surveying a Yorkshire valley on a late August evening as the sun sets.
Soft Coral brings this EP to a close in a tender manner not seen throughout the rest of Catt’s tracks. The angst is there, resplendent alongside the maturity of making music out of enjoyment and nothing else. It’s a track that will make you smile and sway slightly to the beat, but were you to take a listen to the lyrics then you would find, once again, a horribly bleak view towards the future that all young people are facing, making this the perfect closing track to a collection named Teens. Catt sings “Soft Coral, are you giving up?//You still work in a job but you never gave a fuck.”, encapsulating the attitude of an entire generation in a simple, beautiful way.
So, taking all of this into account - Teens is a spellbinding release. It’s lyrically wonderful, the music is emotive and defiantly strong whilst the production is masterful. It is available on iTunes and also as a physical release from Tiny Lights Recordings here. I couldn’t implore you and more to buy anything else. Honestly, it’s worth every last penny.
You would be forgiven for thinking that Fantasy Rainbow was a wonderful setting for a mid-afternoon children’s television show involving unicorns and enormous hills made out of ice cream, dotted with chocolate flakes and sprinkles. After all, it’s far too light-hearted a name for anything serious like, say, a musician.
However, this was exactly the objective of 18 year old Oliver Catt, formerly of Knights, Only Animals and Beach Break: A light hearted project that wasn’t to be taken too seriously, either internally or externally. Therein lies the beauty of this rare solo project. The songs are not directed at, or aiming to please anyone in particular. It seems, to an outsider, that they weren’t written for anyone else other than Catt himself. That much is clear from the EP’s title “Demo #1” - Not aiming to please anyone with a fancy title, this is a project. This collection of four songs is just… a lot of fun.
Running your eyes briefly down the track list, a few double takes may be necessary. The opening song is entitled Snaggle Tooth, once again an image perhaps associated with a child’s bedtime story. However, these analogies stop here. The moment you press play, it becomes crystal clear that this is no joke.
This EP works so well because, in not taking himself too seriously, Catt has created an environment in which he can make the music he clearly enjoys making. The word “fun” once again crops to mind, not to belittle his efforts. Musically, this collection of songs is truly wonderful, with happy-go-lucky guitar riffs ringing in your ear that one could imagine Little Red Riding Hood skipping along through the woods to.
Dark Heart follows Snaggle Tooth’s sublime beginning as a very chilled-out, relaxed and surprisingly uplifting tune, despite it’s more pessimistic title and lyrics. A common theme, lyrically, appears to be a frustration with love and the opposite sex compared with the pile of forgotten singer-songwriters who can’t help but sing about their broken heart. Catt sings “Too many nights spent worrying about you//Too many nights spent thinking it through”, a perspective that will ring true in most people’s ears. The EP is filled with lyrics of classic teenage angst and occasional despair, almost the musical version of Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye.
Extra Pleasant begins with a drum beat that may catch you out as slightly RnB-esque before the comforting, complimentary tones of Catt’s vocals and guitar join in. This track is the shortest of the EP and seems to fly by, but it is a welcome respite before the masterpiece that follows.
Cynic, critic, be what I may, but I certainly don’t throw the M-word around loosely or without conviction. Take Me To A Birch Tree takes every teenage angst-ridden, desperate, terrified and worried emotion and bundles them together into almost six minutes of brilliance. The song begins slowly, fearfully, and builds, faster and faster, stronger and stronger into an emotional mammoth of a crescendo as Catt repeats the lines “Take me for a ride//Take me for a//Take me for a ride//To the city lights”, as eager for escape and change as any teen. This track never bores despite it’s lengthy nature and is one that would happily sit on repeat for hours. It ends as rapidly as it began, and the EP has finished. Before you have even begun, it seems.
Tiny Lights Recordings, a new independent record label based in Newcastle, UK, have unearthed a diamond in signing Fantasy Rainbow. Credit must also be given to Jonathan Coddington and Jack Laidlaw who mixed and mastered this release respectively. The next EP, thematically namedTeens, is due to be released on August 15th and can be pre-ordered here. Having received plenty of airtime on national and regional radio in the past week or so, this is a project to keep your eyes on.
The Bedroom EP’s rating of Fantasy Rainbow’s Demo #1 - 8/10