Festival favourites produce a good time album for good time people...
Adam Webb 2007
Epitomising the phrase multiculturalism better than most, The Cat Empire are a six-piece funk fusion band from Australia who mix it up with rock, reggae and jazz and recorded their second album in Havana, Cuba. Already a massive live draw in their home nation (where they’ve won an ARIA and hit number one) their reputation has since spread to the US, Europe, and now, the UK. Apparently in concert, their numbers occasionally swell to 30, all in pursuit of the ultimate party.
Unsurprisingly, the Latin influences are particularly evident here, particularly on opening cuts “Hello” and “How To Explain” both of which leap from the blocks with a salsa-fuelled shuffle. Once into gear, the tempo barely drops for the duration, only resting with the Marley-influenced title track and bizarre set-closer, the mock-cockney skank of “Protons, Neutrons, Electrons”.
Here and elsewhere the vocals of Felix Riebel will infuriate as many as they beguile. An unlikely mash of Robert Wyatt, Ian Dury, Maxi Jazz and Galliano’s Rob Gallagher – Riebel combines a toker’s wisdom (‘music is a language of us all…’) and references to wedgies with a finely-honed sensibility for tunes. Certainly, “Days Like These”, “The Car Song” and the aforementioned “Protons…” are sunshine pop singles in anyone’s language.
Custom built for festival season, a cold Tooheys and activities of a hand-waving variety, The Cat Empire are a good time band for good time people. As fun as an Antipodean Madness, devotees of everyone from Just Jack to early Acid Jazz should form an orderly queue.