Karma Owes Me a Lifetime of Happiness is the debut album of Nottingham four-piece, Catch Fire. The album is full of pointed lyrics and catchy riffs, tidily packaged as a concept album exploring the notion (or lack) of karma. While some musical aspects feel overdone, the album is brimming with weighty themes, suggesting that Catch Fire has produced a pretty solid debut album.
‘Petrification’ opens the album with feedback that grows into a guitar lick with a lovely warm tone. This track does feel like a typical pop-punk one. Yet it tells an emotional story with lyrics that make clever use of metaphor. The mix of the guitar and vocal is off, leaving each one fighting to be the focal point. Nonetheless, the layers of guitar and the softer vocal that closes ‘Petrification’ work well and will leave you wanting to hear more.
Continuing the bold and brash themes of Karma Owes Me a Lifetime of Happiness is both ‘Malignance’ and ‘Fault Line’. Both tunes play with the contrast between loud and soft. In particular, singer Miles Kent’s gentler vocal contrasts with the heavier guitar sound Neal Arkley has created. Kent’s vocals at times brings to mind Andrew Groves’ (Arcane Roots) powerful, signature vocal.
‘Stabbing Pains’ takes the LP in a slightly new direction, as the rich, warm tone of Arkley’s guitar shines through. The guitar tracks play with repetitive riffs and the half-sung, half-shouted vocal suggests some interesting hardcore influences. As with ‘Petrification’, the vocals are lightly masked by the music, meaning extra focus is needed to catch the implicit meanings and narrative behind the lyrics. The chorus has a great sing-along feel, and while ‘Stabbing Pains’ doesn’t offer anything breathtakingly new to the LP, it’s a solid tune.
Showing off more of Catch Fire’s stunning guitar tone is ‘How Heavily I Breathe’. The lyrics add more weight to this album’s narrative, with emotional phrases sure to resonate with the listener. It’s filled with spritely energy, with sing-along choruses and a brutally honest commentary on life. ‘How Heavily I Breathe’ clearly defines the band’s sound and the themes that flow throughout the album.
‘For Those Who Fear Death’ plays with harsher guitar tones, and the growth throughout the track piques interest. Kent’s vocal is stunning as always, and Jordan Kimbley’s deep bass tone adds depth to the music. It’s musically understated, with each element kept relatively simple, but this is what makes it stand out. The lyrics feature clever metaphors which add to the surprising beauty of ‘For Those Who Fear Death’.
The pretty intro and interesting pitch shifting in ‘Third Person’ closes the album. Different elements are incorporated here, including a few spoken words which give the song some emotional context. The music is dynamic, switching between soft guitar licks and harsh riffs, while the huge bass tone shines brightly. The lyrics are anguished and delivered perfectly by Kent. Explosive and emotional, ‘Third Person’ is a perfectly executed conclusion to Catch Fire’s debut album.
Catch Fire has defined themselves with Karma Owes Me a Lifetime of Happiness. They have the ability to write intelligently and creating a concept to explore weighty themes has paid off. It’s enjoyable as a debut album and will see them shine in the pop-punk scene.
Karma Owes Me A Lifetime Of Happiness is released the 16th of November via Rude Records