Cats & Cats & Cats - Catsalogue

‘Catsalogue’ is not totally unlike listening to a band your fifteen-year old brother has thrown together with his mates.

If it seems unusual to break up and then release a greatest hits album almost immediately after, then that’s just part of the larger oddness of Cats & Cats & Cats.The feline-themed collective never hit the big time, but seemed to have a rapturous following among those who were turned onto their motley mix of experimental indie and post-rock mathiness. Point in case: the band wrote a self-mocking blog post detailing ten pointers on how to be unsuccessful in the music industry. While obviously a bit of a piss-take, it’s a good example of the old saying that behind every joke there’s some truth; it ain’t for nothing that tip no. one is ‘Get Too Niche’, as depending on your tastes, the band’s messy collage of sounds is either their absolute strength or their Achille’s heel.

The punning cunning of ‘Catsalogue’ is a collection of the bands efforts over their seven-year lifespan, and if there’s one definitively positive thing that can be said about it it’s that it’s consistent throughout. There’s a sonic unity to the songs that mark them out as being cut from the same cloth: tricky math rock riffs, odd stop/start time signatures combined with off-key vocal texturing (like on ‘Anchoress’), and some songs appearing to start in medias res, as on frenzied instrumental ‘Happiness For Lola’. That, along with the other purely instrumental track on here, ‘Young Person’s Guide To Being A Rock Star’, a pleasant slab of warm, mid-tempo jangliness, are the highlights of the record – the singing elsewhere is by and large an unneccessary distraction. To say vocalist Ben George is an acquired taste is putting it kindly; to say he plain just can’t sing is being accurate. He howls lazily all over ‘If I’d Had An Atlas’, and a creepy windchime and cuckoo clock effect at the start of ‘You’ll Never Make It Home’, along with a brief violin interlude partway through, make it one of the stronger contenders - until the intrusion of a tuneless mass singalong that adds nothing but definitely takes something away. Only on the whimsical and slightly haunting folky-rock of ‘Fight Fight With Fight’, that unexpectedly morphs into a skittish ska breakdown, do all the various elements come together in a seamless and altogether pleasing manner.

Like a scruffier version of Los Campesinos!, but lacking their effortless flair, ‘Catsalogue’ is not totally unlike listening to a band your fifteen-year old brother has thrown together with his mates, mercilessly rocking out in the garage after school: while they’ve got the hang of playing the instruments to an acceptable degree, no one can sing for toffee and the songs are a cross between an elaborate soundcheck and an extended jam session. The shoddy production values don’t help either. It’s missing a certain finish, which while probably deliberate, does give it an overall air of a demo recorded on a home PC. If this sounds like it’s right up your alley (cat), then great – you’ll love all the little quirks and idiosyncracies. But for this reviewer, it’s not what you’d call the cat’s whiskers.

Tags: Reviews, Album Reviews

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