Some albums happen in your life at the right time for the music to make a connection. I first heard The Cat Empire’s infectious blend of reggae and ska on a miserably cold February day, one of those days where it feels like winter will never end. Their new album “Rising with the Sun”, the Australians’ seventh, just explodes with sun and warmth. There’s a joie de vivre that permeates the band’s music, the kind of laid back vibe that seems to go hand in hand with beaches, sunscreen and drinks with little umbrellas. This record won’t melt the snow outside, but it’ll chase the winter blues away. And in a few months, it’ll be the soundtrack to your summer parties.
The opening track “Wolves” sets the tone perfectly with its latin-infused beat and highly singable melody. That recipe serves as blueprint for most of the album, with the songs straddling the line between jazz, reggae, latin, ska and pop, veering more to one side then to another. It always feels spontaneous and true, never forced. The record follows in the steps of their previous one (2013’s “Steal the Light”) as frontman Felix Riebl explains. “That was our starting point… it was just a matter of going back to that physical space and coming up with new songs.”
The band will play the Osheaga Festival this summer which seems like a perfect venue for them. Lots of people, lots of sun, lots of fun. This record isn’t my usual cup of tea but it’s just too much fun to ignore.