2010 Retrospect: The Cat Empire – ‘Cinema’

17 Jan

The Cat Empire – ‘Cinema’

(EMI)

A guitar string snaps, a tambourine rattles and Felix Riebl sings, “This is the last time I will follow you”, and so begins the fifth album of jazz-infused, Melbourne-based and nationally loved The Cat Empire. The statement of intent that is the opening duo of tracks, ‘Waiting’ and ‘Falling’, sets the touch tape alight right from the off and just like that, boom, they’re back.

 
After ten years on the national scene the band need no introduction and all key players return along with the usual plethora of guest appearances. By this stage, each member knows his intended role inside out and whether it be Ollie McGill’s frantic and infinitely catchy piano hooks on ‘All Hell’ and ‘Call Me Home’ or DJ Jumps’ freestyling on ‘Falling’ the band transition their focus seamlessly. The choruses are still triumphant, the singing still pitch perfect, the genres mashed and the brass ensemble still the cherry on the cake.

 
What differentiates this Cat Empire album from previous offerings then? Well, it’s the level of maturity, both of composition and lyrics. Tracks are sculpted wonderfully and seemingly effortlessly whilst the lyrics have a melancholic tinge lacking from previous albums. The new despondency (‘Reasonably Fine’ being the best example) helps add depth and longevity to what otherwise would be a frivolous sound and an album of repeated highs.

 
It would be too easy to go into detail on each track and highlight how they weave and change, peak and trough, like ‘Shoulders’ quite unexpected two minute outro, but this is an album best experienced by yourself. And preferably on the weekend. And loud. Words simply can’t capture the overall effect, as it is again, uniquely Cat Empire. And with a dedicated following of eager kittens to impress and the weight of expectation on their bearded indie shoulders, with Cinema, they have not let us down.

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