Album Review: Cats on Fire – Our Temperance Movement

In their second album Cats on Fire display their finely honed good taste with a selection of songlets which evoke the likes of The Smiths, Belle and Sebastian and Kings of Convenience.  They’ve been criticised for this elsewhere, but it’s hard to question the combination of influences that are woven into the silken fabric of this album.  Listening to it is like coming home to find that your beloved record collection’s had a bonkfest and produced a beautiful baby in your absence.

The band’s musical range is remarkably varied – the full school orchestra (including, if my ears do not deceive me, an oboe) is out in force on ‘Garden Lights’, which considers the benefits of burning down your ex’s placee after they’ve moved out.  To be fair, burning down any house is still a useful way of expressing post break-up anger, which this song does with poise.  The lamentful line, “Alone in this evil dream/ here with oil and matches/ flicker when I think of you…I often do” packs all the gut-wrenching, heart-tearing torment of lost love into the simplest expression.

‘Never Sell the House’ shows childish nostalgia butting resiliently against unwanted change: “And you’ll never sell the house/ we’ll always have our own rooms/ Me, my sister and the cat”.  The xylophone on this tune comes straight from the playroom, and whilst you’re never quite clear what they’re getting at it’s jolly nice trying to work it out.

Our Temperance Movement is as solid a second album as you’d want to come across – lyrically surprising, intelligent and exquisitely melodic.  These Cats are well worth a listen.

Words: Helen True