Cats on Fire‘s sophomore album, Our Temperance Movement (review), was severely overlooked when it was released in 2009. At first it caught my attention due to its striking similarity to jangle-pop; the British sort during the ’80s hits a particular sweet spot. The Finnish collective combined the deeply dramatic lore of The Smiths with the bouncy acoustic jangle of The Housemartins, with a bit of Felt and Go-Betweens thrown in for a good measure. These influences, particularly The Smiths and The Housemartins, featured vocalists with comparable deliveries; Morrissey and Paul Heaton possessed a deep bellow that could do quivering ballads just as well as buoyant pop, like “Frankly Mr. Shankly” and “Bow Down”. Cats on Fire’s sound aligns most with tracks like these. They played like a brighter, more optimistic version of The Smiths, infusing contemporary indie-pop with an authentic jangle-pop revivalism that many have tried but rarely succeeded in.
I was thrilled when I heard the band will release a new album, All Blackshirts to Me, in late March. I was even more thrilled when I learned that a track from the album, “A Few Empty Waves”, was made available. You can check that out above. Although this track sounds very similar (and just as good) as anything on , the album will mark a slightly new direction for the group. “The new album reveals a more adventurous approach with a few synthesized sounds lightening up their previously rather rigorous acoustic dogmas,” the press release reads. “With contributions from two new members, All Blackshirts to Me is by far the richest sounding Cats on Fire album yet.” Expect a review next month.