Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cats on Fire - All Blackshirts To Me (Matinee Recordings)

I'll admit to being bored to tears by Cats on Fire the last few times I've seen them. Gone was the initial rush of chiming guitars and darkly humorous lyrics that'd first endeared me to them nearly five years ago. They seemed to be treading water.

It's delighful, then, that the band's third album 'All Blackshirts to Me' (Matinee Recordings)is an album to be treasured. It's not an immediate record at all, apart from tracks such as 'My Sense of Pride' which is pretty much Cats on Fire by numbers, but it's an album that, after a few listens, worms its way into your heart - almost despite itself.

Like when a football teams sacks its manager and appoints a new one if often performs much better, then Cats on Fire's new drummer seems to have added a whole new dimension to their music. This is most apparent on the stark 'There Goes the Alarm' and 'After the Fact', bith minimalist exercises in self-doubt and anxiety, and both brilliant, brilliant songs.

But perhaps the most brilliant is 'The Sea Within You', which sits neatly at the heart of 'All Blackshirts To Me''. It's lyrically obtuse, but that only adds to its general aura.

This is something of a theme. Mattias Bjorkas's lyrics have never actually been straightforward, but often they've descended into romantic parody - not this time, though. His high point is '1914 and Beyond', a stunning critique of the financial crises hurting the working classes across Europe. It's quite something.

So, yeah. Five years on from seeing this band at the pre-Indietracks gig we organised in 2007, Cats on Fire are back on form. 'All Blackshirts to Me' is their 'Strangeways, Here We Come'. Only now I really hope they get to make another record.

You can download 'A Few Empty Waves' from the album here.

Buy 'All Blackshirts To Me' now from Matinee Recordings.

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