The Sainte Catherines - Dancing for Decadence (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Sainte Catherines

Dancing for Decadence (2006)

Fat Wreck Chords

Before they wanted it to burn the Sainte Catherines played Guelph, Ontario on a Halloween with Against Me! and Fifth Hour Hero. It was an interesting bill because while the band certainly held their own they lacked that charisma of Fifth Hour Hero and the cult of personality surrounding the headliners. The band said little (or at least left that impression) but they dutifully bowled through a number of propulsive little punk rock songs that, while not-instantly memorable on their own, combined for a great set. That's how the Sainte Catherines have always seemed to me, like the building with a strong foundation but lacking the little frills and embellishments that make it stand out.

On The Art of Arrogance the Montreal act rocked like a No Idea band. The fact that they were releasing records though tiny Québécois labels was a mere technicality. The group was clearly in the class that followed How Water Music's revival of the rough voiced, road warrior punk band (although heavier), with an aesthetic borrowed from Midwestern bands like Dillinger Four (check the song titles). That the band became attached to Fat Wreck Chords was curious, particularly since they're not as immediately poppy as Fat acts tend to be (and I mean that in the nicest way possible to all parties), but with Dancing For Decadence it's not hard to see how they fit. While Arrogance sounded like Trapdoor Fucking Exit at times, it's not hard to compare Decadence to the Lawrence Arms.

This record finds the band writing sharper hooks and material that's comparatively less dense then their prior recordings. There are legitimate singles here (well, within the punk realm) and that's not something you could pick out from the band's past work. For the most part though the Sainte Catherines are still locked into a single gear, and while they're succeeding wildly on that level the lack of dynamics can make the full-album experience drag. While one may not be compelled to trudge thorough the band's catalogue in a sitting, tracks like "Ring of Fire = 4 Points" or "Get Your Politics Out of My Hair" would be welcome additions to a mix. Considering the popularity of "playlist shuffle" listening habits these days, maybe that's enough.

There's a real sense of improvement on Dancing For Decadence, and the Sainte Catherines have certainly tightened the screws on their songwriting. I still get the sense that the band jumped the queue early to a label with the expectations of Fat Wreck, but they were bound to hit that level sooner or later.