Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Katrina and the Waves

  • Katrina and the Waves [Capitol, 1985] A-
  • Waves [Capitol, 1986] A-
  • Break of Hearts [SBK, 1989] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Katrina and the Waves [Capitol, 1985]
For a while I thought the only thing Capitol had done right was sign them, but between the exuberant Katrina Leskanich and the surefire Kimberley Rew this band would be hard for any label to fuck up: not one of the twenty songs on the band's two Attic LPs--Walking on Sunshine and 2, both recommended as Canadian imports--is a loser. U.S. producer Scott Litt's tricky new version of "Machine Gun Smith" makes up for the Motown horns he adds to "Walking on Sunshine." The hyped-up drums of his rather glaring remix don't really hurt anything. And if his selections favor Rew's conventional side, well, after earning his art badge with the Soft Boys the composer is working fulltime for Katrina, and hence making a specialty of direct expression in any case. Believe me, direct expression is something I don't scoff at these days. A-

Waves [Capitol, 1986]
Especially with Kimberley Rew down to two tracks, songwriting isn't the point and shouldn't be. Anything more meaningful than the received, catchy tunes and themes of readymade pop vehicles--the country affectations of Lone Justice, say--would interfere with the pleasures of the singing. Katrina doesn't illuminate these small-time universals with her lusty contralto, she subjects them to her own purposes, which come down to lighting up the world. A-

Break of Hearts [SBK, 1989]
When it's bad it sounds like Taylor Dayne and/or Heart. When it's good it sounds like Katrina and the Waves wishing they could be as big as Taylor Dayne and/or Heart. And they produced it themselves. B-