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De Novo Dahl
Theory 8 Records

This album was a real breath of fresh air - it's always good to be pleasantly surprised by an artist you've never heard of. De Novo Dahl is a group of 5 guys and one gal from Tennessee who make quirky, eclectic and just darn FUN pop music. I was amazed to read that Cats / Kittens is their first album - especially since they've made the bold move of including a full set of remixes (Kittens) of the original album Cats, all done by the band themselves.

There are lots of different influences bubbling through the 16 songs on Cats - the whimsicality of the B-52s, the pure pop of Blondie or Supergrass, some 80s new wave moments reminiscent of The Cars or The Cure at their happiest, and plenty of hints of classic 70s pop like Bowie or Roxy Music - but nothing is too derivative, apart from maybe some of the vocals. The group members seem to be swapping not only vocal duties but also the individual singer's vocal style from song to song; on the opener "All Over Town" the spirit of Bryan Ferry is invoked, while on the excellent ballad "Ryan Patrick Huseman Darrow", the singer is a dead ringer for Radiohead's Thom Yorke.

Near the end of the album comes the fantastic "Conquest at Midnight", with male and female singers swapping lines over crunchy guitars, new wave keyboards and a catchy-as-hell tune. Pop-tastic !

With all these riches to choose from, I almost missed out on Kittens. As with most remixes, these are a bit more disposable than the original material, but again the band's invention and playfulness shine through. Many of the mixes are different enough that it's hard to tie them up with the originals, especially given the wacky titles such as "Sexy Mr. Falcon Jive Mister", "Wanna Beer Man?" or "Absentee Ballad".

Overall, De Novo Dahl is a band who are brimming with ideas and have the talent to carry (most of) them off without lapsing into over-quirkiness. A fine achievement - I'm looking forward to hearing what they come up with next.

-Gareth Bowles

Track Listing:
Disc One:

1. All Over Town
2. Jeffrey
3. Listen Up
4. I Woke Up Late
5. Funk
6. Push Buttons
7. Ryan Patrick Huseman Darrow
8. Piggy's Adventure
9. De Your Man
10. End of Time

Disc Two:
1. Magic
2. Sexy Mr. Falcon Jive Mister
3. Pop Her Stop Her
4. I Broke a Plate
5. Dinosaurs!
6. Big Ol' Buttons
7. Wanna Beer Man?
8. Target Practice
9. Rhythm PHD.
Turtle Italian

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