Cats In Paris - Courtcase 2000

Bill Cummings 03/09/2008

Rating: 4.5/5

Take your Pimms in hand and let four frantic felines known as Cats In Paris (Ben Summers - drums, Sara Beard -vocals and keyboards, Lorien Edwards - bass and Michael Watson - violin, synthesiser, vocals) take you on a sonic trip. Formed in Lancashire less than a year ago these Cats unleashed their imaginations and threw them at walls. The results?Experimental pop, with skew-whiff, weirdy high pitched melodies that bewitch and cajole. Violins twinge, frantic rhythms get your feet moving. Initially the word twee crosses your path, but these cats have more bite: this is noisy, experimental pop that constantly surprises you at every turn, like wandering through a maze with tasty bounty around every corner. Cut and paste music vocals swarm around melodies half spoken and chanted, and then snippets of melody sung with clarity.

Swirling guitars, twitchy drums, Casio are all combined like pop art. Fleetingly, this all conjures up the Animal Collective's 'Strawberry Jam' the bleepy experimentalism found in Of Montreal's output, the melodies of Architecture In Helskinki, the playfulness of The Beta Band, but these are just the fragments the whole is much weirder, and singular.

These are the reasons why you simply must own and treasure Courtcase 2000. 'Foxes'bounces with exclaiming synths, Wurlitzer's spin, rhythms pounce, screaming boy/girl vocals enthuse over ludicrous animal stories - 'Where are all the foxes?' they ask. Previous single Cold Products is an instrumental of subtle quality, expertly ebbing and flowing striding violins and meshy keys through tulip fields, before getting bogged down in muddied detuned sojourns. Castle Walls is a tale of isolation inspired by Lindow Man the cursed Iron Age sod, and sounds like early Flaming Lips being broken into tiny little pieces by five year olds with primary coloured toy hammers. Flamethrowers is twisted genius switching constantly in form, tone, and direction, building towards multi-layered climaxes: 'Oh no not like this/please God /not like/I was armed with a camera dog and a cold/ oh no not like this/please God not like this' before going intergalactic on the chorus line 'we went to the stars/ in fast yellow cars…'

Goojfc begins with the lonely poignant vocals my eyes are swollen and my beard dying /day by day we forget to eat any dinner at all/and it burns - this moment of beauty weaves into a stew of clattering Casio experimentation, rising and falling like a microscopic opera, the final juddering chanted refrains of now its dead are prophetic as it splutters to its conclusion.

The Curse of Johan Brain with its wonky random seafaring narratives are part nightmare, part fairytale, ebbing and flowing like Bearsuit dancing the fox trot with Devo. Button Part Two is brilliant like the jingle for some fantastical advert for space drinks, Commodore keyboard keys, disperse into deranged directions'People of the future need a special juice what is that juice? Orange Juice replies Sara. (How to harvest) Yourself spits with dalek notes, random midnight conversations: punctuated by screaming boys and girls and cats' meows crawling up and falling down stairs, cutting hair personified by ADDED SOUND EFFECTS(ZZZZ- ZZZZ). But best of all is the outlandish moment when everything explodes and crazy violins press the fast forward button. Why can't more British bands sound this exuberantly creative, bursting with multicoloured tunes?

Here's the warning sticker though if you don't like the experimental or progressive, don't touch Courtcase 2000, if you prefer the standard, the ordinary, the verse/chorus/verse then this isn't for you. Let frontman Michael explain what it takes to be a Cats in Paris fan? "An adoration of multi-genred pop, grammatical anomalies and dancing a bit wrong."

Just when you thought pop music had lost its ability to throw you off guard, British bands bogged down in tired scenes' worn out formulas long since consigned to the dirty washing basket. Along come the purring Cats In Paris with quite the most delightful, surprising, eclectic, unhinged debut album I've heard this year. It's cool for cats.

Release date: 28/08/08

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