Updated: Apr 10
The Cat Empire’s new LP ‘Stolen Diamonds’ builds upon the foundations set by the earlier pioneering of their increasingly more popular and unique style of music. ‘tolen Diamonds sees a refreshing and at times tropical mixture of ska, reggae, hip-hop and jazz, ultimately combining a plethora of cultural sound on the one album. This is largely characterised by La Siréne, which is sung solely in French. Felix Riebl’s lyrics preach freedom and happiness, preaching a refreshing and uplifting message upon confident and proud rhythms.
The album’s opening song, Kila, delves familiarly into the style that we’ve come to expect from the Empire, providing a perfect segway into the LP’s titular song. The buoyant in Stolen Diamonds reverberates into the ethereal, housing the inherent quality to speak to the shoe-tapper or head-bobber inside of you. The same can be said for Oscar Wilde, which couples its trumpet with smooth vocals and a pleasant riff, drawing immediate similarities with British singer/songwriter King Charles. A seamless weave between melancholy and hope sees Oscar Wilde take the cake for this album. The following song in Ready Now would not sound unfamiliar in a basketball mixtape, signifying a noticeable difference in the album from then on.
The LP proceeds to delve through genres, Riebl commanding his army of talented musicians through a paradox of both time and sound difference. However, the argument can be made that the album may sound unbalanced, with the four strongest songs featuring in succession at the start of the order. In contrast, one could also argue the album’s order begins with their more original sound, before branching out into the broader aspects of music, then returning once more into the realm of relative similarity.
The Cat Empire’s use of a joyous chorus throughout the discography employs a distinct tone of inclusion, while at the same time making the LP sound slightly more like a live performance than it would otherwise be, tying in with Riebl’s perception of The Cat Empire as “a live band first and foremost.” Nevertheless, it is exciting to see The Cat Empire continue to administer similar sounding music to that of what was included in their self-titled album back in 2003. Furthermore, the juvenile and tokenistic sound set forth by their first single, ‘Hello,’ has been replaced by one that, while appearing identical, possesses the inherent ability to delve into deeper meaning and broader outreach. Perhaps it is Riebl’s maturing as a songwriter, or a collective growth in all round composition. Regardless, The Cat Empire’s fan base will be overjoyed to hear something so new and refreshing, while paying homage to their original sound.
Nevertheless, it is exciting to see The Cat Empire continue to administer similar sounding music to that of what was included in their self-titled album back in 2003
Ultimately, The Cat Empire’s new album has achieved the notion of appearing completely new, although resoundingly similar. As simple as this may sound, many bands, such as the Arctic Monkeys and Toto to name a few, have failed to maintain a strong and succinct sound by their fourth or fifth album. In vast contrast, The Cat Empire, having now released their eighth album, are still able to generate similar sounding, although remarkably new songs twenty years on from their inception. Stolen Diamonds has many different voices throughout the album’s thirteen songs, making it enjoyable for many different demographics. This is demonstrated at their concerts, with many shiny bald heads reflecting the exciting colourful lights. As a live experience, The Cat Empire draw vast similarities to Sydney group Hot Potato Band, whose exciting live performances and organ-based sound provides for an exhilarating, family friendly experience. It is bands like The Cat Empire and Hot Potato Band that are vital for saving the live music scene in NSW, which stands precariously on edge pending a legislative decision that could ultimately ruin live music in NSW. 4/5