Well well well, the Cats have sharpened their claws on studio album number four. The trademark Cats in Space 70’s-tinged AOR/power-pop/melodic rock sound is still very much prevalent, but ‘Atlantis’ packs more of rockier sound than previous albums. The guitars from Greg Hart and Dean Howard are more prominent than before, and ‘Atlantis’ shows a side to Cats in Space normally reserved for a live setting, especially when the six-piece are opening up for an established arena band and only have 30 minutes to impress.
One of the best aspects about ‘Atlantis’ (the first studio output with new vocalist Damien Edwards) is that the mid-album dip in quality which blights so many albums today never arrives. After the thrilling opening onslaught of the Tom Scholz-like instrumental intro ‘Dive!, the uptempo ‘Spaceship Superstar’, and the glorious, rock-fuelled ‘Revolution’; the band really do excel. ‘Sunday Best’ is a whimsical lighter-than-light piano-driven Beatles-meets-ELO number; ‘Listen To The Radio’ showcases the vocal range of newbie Edwards (ably backed by the five other Cats and their wall of lush backing vocal harmonies); ‘I Fell Out Of Love With Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is a classy moment reminiscent of Bowie’s glam-era and one of the finest songs that Greg Hart has written; then there is the standout moment on the album; the knockout one-two punch of ‘Marionettes’ followed by ‘Queen Of The Neverland’ – ten minutes or so of some of the finest British rock heard in years. ‘Marionettes’ has a thumping piano sound early on courtesy of the Cat in the hat; Andy Stewart, he throws in a few synth flourishes and combined with a dreamy Gilmour-esque guitar solo, as well as a ‘Dear Prudence’ vibe, makes for an interesting few minutes. The guitars are set to stun on a track that lives on for quite some time afterward. ‘Queen Of The Neverland’ has the Cats wearing their Queen influences proudly on their collective sleeves. Primetime ‘Queen’ and ‘Queen II’, complete with towering guitar work and more of THOSE backing vocals. Simply stunning.
The latter stages of the album also impress; with the smooth strains of ‘Can’t Wait For Tomorrow’, and the powerful ‘Seasons Change’ particularly standing out. But it’s the sheer epic-ness of the title track which closes the album, that takes the top spot on the back nine. So much going on throughout its five minutes that it’s hard to isolate one particular aspect for praise, but the lavish orchestrations from Mike Moran are worthy of the highest praise indeed, and it’s the perfect way to end this incredibly entertaining album.
Cats in Space have really upped their game on ‘Atlantis’. The standard of the playing, as well as the songcraft, is at times staggering. What’s that noise? That’s the sound of melodic-rock scribes everywhere redoing their end of year best-of’s, as Cats in Space have just thrown a spanner in the works.
Purchase ‘Atlantis’ here.
Review – Dave