Catatonia split after singer's 'exhaustion'

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The Welsh pop band Catatonia announced an "amicable" split yesterday, following months of publicity over the health of their lead singer, Cerys Matthews, a string of cancelled tour dates, and disappointing record sales.

The band enjoyed chart success with hits, including "Mulder & Scully" and "Road Rage". It said: "We'd like to thank everybody who's supported us down the years, and given us lots of great memories."

Gravel-voiced Matthews, 32, became one of the biggest home-grown names in pop in 1998 when the group, which was formed five years earlier, finally found chart success. Until then she had been earning a living busking in Cardiff.

She developed a liking for the glitzy showbusiness parties that came with success but the constant late-night partying led her to receive treatment for "anxiety and exhaustion".

Cracks began to appear in the band in 1999 when they cancelled a series of dates. Matthews had become racked with self-doubt and was having difficulty performing.

She kept a low profile for months until an interview with a music magazine in which she talked about depression. She checked into a London rehabilitation clinic, forcing her record company, WEA, to tell fans she was being treated "for exhaustion and a recurrent asthma complaint, exacerbated by drinking and smoking".

The problems came to a head last month when the band cancelled its UK tour, which hampered the promotion of their album, Paper, Scissors, Stone. The new album has failed to match the success of others by Catatonia.

The comeback single, "Stone By Stone", reached number 15 in the charts, while the album entered at seven but failed to sustain sales.