Filled with their unique genre-mashing sound and immaculate horn figures, The Cat Empire’s new record is a fun affair with a few new twists. The Cat Empire is one of Australia’s best live acts, with a plethora of feel-good singles that get the crowd up and dancing the night away. Their signature sound features heavily on their new album, Rising With The Sun, but the band adds a little zest in the form of haunting synthesisers; a subtle addition that helps drive some of the slower tunes, and some electronic drums. For example, the third track, ‘Midnight’, mixes reggae drum and piano figures whilst the simple synthesiser line floats over the top. The synth line is hypnotising and haunting, and adds an element of mysteriousness to the song. The album’s lead single, ‘Wolves’, opens the album.

‘Wolves’ came in at number 79 on Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown, and it also hints at the new sound the band is experimenting with. The intricate synthesiser lines keyboardist Ollie McGill layers throughout the song adds a new flavour to a familiar sound. The synth lines flow around the blasting horns and Latin-feel coming from the drums, helping to drive the song. The second single, ‘Bulls’, provides a safe and familiar sound. Whilst it isn’t as exciting as ‘Wolves’, the reggae beat in the verse and the feel-good chorus is a throwback to the band’s earlier albums. I didn’t expect the rockabilly-esque ending, but it added drive and was a fun way to end the tune.

Having seen the band live multiple times, I can already tell the crowd will be going wild when the band plays the song live. Some of the songs on this album remind the listener of early Cat Empire songs. For example, ‘Blasting Away’ and ‘You Are My Song’ are both Latin-infused dance tunes that are super exciting and really make you wish you could samba. They invoke memories of older songs like ‘How To Explain’ and ‘Brighter Than Gold’ off the last album, Steal The Light. In that way, I can see these two tracks being amongst the favourites on this album, and certainly crowd favourites when the band plays them live.

‘You Are My Song’ also features some of the aforementioned synthesiser lines that weave around Harry Angus’ vocals and the heavy groove provided by the drums and bass. ‘Eagle’ is perhaps the most pop of all the tracks on the album, and invokes memories of the band’s 2010 album Cinema whilst also sounding like it’s own entity. Electronic drums and vocal samples run throughout the song and add a new layer below the live drums and vocals. The album also pays tribute to the Paris Attacks on the song ‘Bataclan’, a powerful ode to the 89 people lost at the Bataclan venue.

Vocalist Felix Riebl sings about the horror and anger felt after the attacks and about remembering those who were lost, singing in the chorus, “And tomorrow, and every night, we scream this song”. ‘Daggers Drawn’ is my favourite track on the album. Infusing Latin grooves, soft vocals, powerful horn lines and featuring a jazzy solo section driven by a blistering keys lick, this song is a throwback to ‘Sol Y Sombra’ and ‘In My Pocket’ from Two Shoes, but with the added sound of synthesisers mimicking the vocal line leading up to the chorus. The ending is also incredible, with Harry Angus mimicking and scatting along with the horn lines with incredible precision. 

Despite the fact a lot of this album sounds very familiar, it’s still super fun. The throwbacks to old school Cat Empire sounds and grooves will undoubtedly please a lot of fans, and the experimentation with new instruments adds a new dimension to the band’s signature sound. I can’t wait to see them perform it all live.    

Rising With The Sun is out now via Two Shoes Records.