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.
1. All Over Town
3. Listen Up
4. I Woke Up Late
6. Push Buttons
7. Ryan Patrick Huseman Darrow
8. Piggy's Adventure
9. De Your Man
10. End of Time
2. Sexy Mr. Falcon Jive Mister
3. Pop Her Stop Her
4. I Broke a Plate
6. Big Ol' Buttons
7. Wanna Beer Man?
8. Target Practice
9. Rhythm PHD.
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