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.
Matthews: The far off mysterious land captured my imagination first as a child because the Bee Gees were from there. It was strange to me that they weren’t British, with that sound and what seemed to me a bigger and better thing than what the Beatles were doing. And at age 11, I became a maniac for The Time Machine, where I discovered my favorite actor Rod Taylor (Aussie). My parents had some of the Bee Gees records from the late-’60s and what I spun the most: Best Of Bee Gees, Vol. 1. Richard and I once sang “Holiday” together in the studio and bonded over the greatest group from his homeland. Richard’s writing at the time seemed very influenced by the Barry and Robin approach, which was a main appeal, not to mention Richard’s vocal sound, which was again of the Bee Gees, to my ear. And beyond The Time Machine film came movies like Chuka and Fate Is The Hunter, total mind blowers—some of the coolest and most brilliant acting performances I ever saw. I love it when Rod Taylor goes into a rage and starts thrashing. You really should check it out. I hate Foster’s.