Cardinal Cardinal

After winning acclaim in Australia with his band the Moles, Richard Davies found himself in Boston with a handful of new songs but no band with which to record them. After recruiting a couple of supposedly kindred spirits in Eric Matthews and Bob Fay, Cardinal recorded their debut EP; soon after Fay left and something truly marvellous happened. There was a real magic between Matthews and Davies and when Cardinal’s only album was released in 1994, it found its way onto many best album lists at the end of the year. The band’s mixture of the Moles’ psychedelic leanings with the chamber pop that came with Matthews’ classical training made for a very appealing collection of songs that haven’t really dated in the last decade. This is still the very special album it always was. The bonus material includes some real Cardinal rarities such as their debut Toy Bell EP (recorded back when Fay was still a member of the band), plus some enlightening demos that demonstrate just how vital Matthews’ perfectionism in the studio was on the completed album to remove the rough edges and leave a polished, yet understated product. While it might be wonderful to rediscover Cardinal again, it is also a little sad because neither band member has ever managed to recapture the absolute beauty of this one-time collaboration in their own solo careers, despite the occasional magical moment. Time for a reunion, perhaps? (Empyrean)