The Bathers are one of these groups who never have received the acclaim that their wonderful music deserves. This demonstrates how unfair the music industry can be when, nowadays, made for television artists, receive publicity way beyond their talent, and sell huge quantities of mediocre music. Sadly, The Bathers meanwhile remain one of the music industries best kept secrets known about only be those who treasure their albums and await hungrily for news of their next album.
It is hard to believe that Pandemonia was released back in 1999,because the album still sounds as fresh as it did back then, as the album has a timeless quality about it. Back in 1999, on first listen I was smitten by the quality of the songwriting, musicianship and of course, Chris Thomson’s voice. There are fourteen songs on the album and remarkably, each one of those songs manages to keep up the same high quality. From the opening track Twenty Two until the final track, Pandemonia, each track fails to disappoint.
The lyrics to the opening track Twenty Two when read, may seem just examples of basic rhyming couplets, but Chris Thomson’s interpretation ensures they paint a picture in the listener’s mind that has the same effect as a good short story or mini-movie. Twenty Two is a tale of adoration and admiration, and yes love, but is it from afar? Dreamless is the second track and is easily one of the standout tracks on the album. The lyrics about love lost are both heartfelt and beautiful, and cannot fail to tug on the listener’s heartstrings.
My favourite track on Pandemonia is the fourth track The Belle Sisters. There is much to admire about this track, Callum McNairs’ guitar, Thomson’s vocal and the lyrics. The lyrics are both beautiful and surreal, after all, what could the lyric “when she held out her hands she was holding an accidental halo hunger and a horses head”. Whatever it means, it adds to the lyrics and makes it one of my favourite Bathers’ tracks.
Tequila Mockingbird is a beautiful song, where Catherine Leroy’s voice beautifully compliments Chris Thomson’s perfectly. Just when you think that the roller-coaster your emotions are experiencing on whilst listening to this album is slowing down, along comes Sundown and Longing, a song so hauntingly beautiful that the listener feels the hurt the subject of the song has experienced and longs to share it with them and take their hurt away.
The Captives is another song about relationships, deceit and love lost, and maybe even regret. Yes, songs about this subject matter may be ten-a-penny, but not many feature such powerful lyrics and have a band and vocalist at the top of their game, that we have here with The Bathers and The Captives. This is one of the faster songs on the album and shows that Thomson and the band are capable of delivering regardless of the tempo of the song.
Last Night I Loved You is a song that tells a story, once that at one time in our lives we have all experienced. When I listened to the lyrics I smiled, as I recognised the emotions that the writer is experiencing, the hurt and pain, just wanting as he says “the healing to begin”. The final track is Pandemonia and is the magnus opus of the album, lasting just over 13 minutes. Some people might believe this to be a mistake, an example of over-indulgence that could spoil the album. However, this is not the case, if anything, Pandemonia with the various parts to it, is the perfect way to finish this album, bringing to an end one hour of beautiful music by a band who sadly have never hit the commercial heights that their wonderful music deserves.
So if you happen to see a copy of Pandemonia, or any album by The Bathers, my advice is buy it, take it home and you will treasure it and want to hear more of The Bathers back catalogue. If you are lucky enough to find a copy of this album, don’t keep it to yourself, tell your friends, and get them to tell their friends, maybe then we can get The Bathers the commercial acclaim they deserve.