After an 18-year absence, Cardinal has finally returned with Hymns (Fire), its sophomore album. To rabid fans of the bi-coastal duo who’d all but given up hope of ever hearing a sequel to their masterful self-titled 1994 debut, that freshman year must have seemed interminable. When its first longplayer appeared on an indie-rock scene buzzing with grunge and punk, it was such a breath of fresh air, some people became giddy from lack of oxygen. To those without a sense of history, it was as though Richard Davies and Eric Matthews had discovered something that had never been done before. Harpsichords and baroque trumpets on a pop album? Preposterous! We love it. No one knows better than Davies and Matthews, themselves, both men with a sense of perspective, that you only have to dig out your copy of the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album to hear “Penny Lane,” awash in baroque trumpet. Or listen to the two LPs by the Left Banke, a mid-’60s combo that hit it big with “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina,” for a hit of string quartets and harpsichords. Not to say that Matthews and Davies didn’t create something perfectly wonderful, both then and now. The duo will also be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our brand new Q&A with them.
Davies: My writing guitar since 1996. I played it all over Telegraph with Mr. Ronald Jones. (He had a Guild 12-string acoustic at the time; a great example of the sound of the two guitars can be heard on “Papillon” from that album.) I played it on the Cosmos album with Robert Pollard, and on the new Cardinal record. I’ve played it in Paris for Montmartre Goths, London for Poison Pens, New York lunchtime industry showcases (jeesh), in Berlin I’ve heard it beaming back at me through the wedges while a few Germans sat at the bar watching the Bundesliga. I’ve played it until its head fell off. It’s currently with the luthier undergoing surgery.
Video after the jump.