It’s a challenge for any band with a strong back catalogue to issue a new album. The Cat Empire's self-titled debut of 2003 became a cult classic, and tracks from the Australian outfit’s subsequent albums, like ‘Sly’ (from 2005’s ‘Two Shoes’ LP) and ‘Cities’ (the title-track of the band’s third album of 2006), have successfully united people with previously polarised music taste.
This engagement with such a diverse fanbase is achieved by tying disparate musical genres that include Cuban salsa, ska, reggae and pop into a festive knot. The pluralist approach produces something truly uplifting and original.
Their own worldly sound is what’s most prominent; however, certain genres more stand out more than others at different points. ‘Am I Wrong’ feels like a pop rock track, ‘Still Young’ is mostly ska, and ‘Like A Drum’ has a prominent Latin influence – that this is prominent throughout reflects the bands trans-continental approach. The salsa rhythms on ‘Steal The Light’ build from thoughtful beginnings into a rhythmic séance.
Serenading the multifarious band are Felix Riebl and Harry Angus. The former has the charm, swagger, and bravado that many rock ‘n’ roll frontmen fail to possess, whilst the latter adds a humorous vitality heightening the festive feel.
These loose, energetic and rhythmic compositions will change shape through improvisation live, but in the way they’re captured on ‘Steal The Light’ they are thoroughly enjoyable.
Words: Cai Trefor
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