Review Summary: Music is the language of us all...1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Before every underground-music lover in Australia knew who The Cat Empire, they were pretty much the same band they are today, just not as well known - that fun-loving, ecletic, jazzy band that always makes you move along. Well, nowadays they are quite popular and liked, and that is all thanks to this album, The Cat Empire...
The band's style is hard to describe but I'll do my best. To make their music they primarily rely on their unusual combination of instruments (namely, trumpet, keyboard, double bass, drums, percussion and dual vocals - and that's not even mentioning the many guest musicians) and this creates quite a funky, jazzy atmosphere in the rhythm section. This is supplanted by the voices of trumpeteer Harry James Angus and percussionist Felix Reibl, both of whom fit the music perfectly. Every member of the band uses their respective instrument well, and all the instruments work very well together. It is truly a unique sound.
Anyway, this was the band's debut album, and the first chance anybody had to hear their unique sound. And it truly is a cracker of an album. We start with "How to Explain?" a Reibl-led funk-fest that describes the first gig the band played together. We then journey through many styles, from poppy, obvious singles like "Days Like These", "Hello" and "The Chariot" to slower, more introspective cuts like "The Lost Song" and "The Crowd", to the jazz-indulgent ender of "All That Talking". The rich blend of cultures, musicians, instruments and general sounds of this album is astonishing.
No offense to Felix Reibl, but the definite standouts on this album are the ones written and performed by Angus. He definitely has one of the best and most original voices in the industry today, and he's a hell of a trumpet player to boot. His vocals are definitely more prominent towards the second half of the album, where he shares lead vocals with Reibl on "Nothing" and "Beanni", then goes on to lead "The Crowd" and "Manifesto", both definite standouts; "The Crowd" being a lot slower, in excess of five minutes, and "Manifesto" coming at only 2 and a half minutes, being a lot faster and to-the-point. However, nothing on this album (or indeed on any Cat Empire album) outshines "The Wine Song", and seven-and-a-half-minute funfest; unsurprisingly, written and sung by Angus. It is truly an exceptional achievement of humanity.
In the end, one has no qualms about saying this is one of the best albums, quite possibly ever. You'd be hard-pressed to find an album that is more original, more compelling, more genre-transcendent and generraly more pure FUN than this one. One of the first lines in this album is, quite aptly, "music is the language of us all," and nowhere is that sentiment better expressed than right here.