Any band for whom genre labels fit awkwardly,
and who span scenes while maintaining their own unique brilliance,
is worth our attention. With styles ranging from angular eccentricity
to majestic, indie guitar rock, Confuse The Cat is just such
a group. Critically acclaimed in their native Belgium, were
they to venture across the channel they would have NME journalists
running to change their underwear. More energizing than Franz
Ferdinand, yet more musically astute than Bloc Party, Confuse
The Cat would find their only peers within the likes of Forward
Russia, iLiKETRAiNS, and British
If you're old enough to have discovered The Chameleons UK or hip enough to enjoy Interpol then hook-laden opener, Shockwaves will electrify. The choppy rhythm guitars are sure to have aficionados nodding their consent. It should be a delirious highlight. Yet in the hands of Confuse The Cat this album scales height after height.
The title track abruptly abandons stylized new-wave in favour of maniacal art-rock. From what had been a fairly understated, American English delivery, vocalist Geert Pleesers is revealed for the charismatic, wild-eyed, lunatic he really is: a blend of John Lydon venom, David Byrne pretension, and a pinch of Einar Orn absurdity. "Look at me hanging on the pylon," Pleesers compels. Not perhaps our first choice pastime, yet Pleesers delivers his deranged rant against the tight, agit rhythms of his band. As a result, Confuse the Cat manage to achieve that which eludes many of their closest peers. Namely infusing their recording with the wild delirium of their live shows.
After such a breathtaking start, where to go next? Confuse the Cat crank it
up still further on the outstanding Principessa. Here Pleesers increasingly
unhinged rallying cry against the mundane peaks when arriving home to a screaming
family and I mean wailing! This track could be a successor to Talking
Heads Once In a Lifetime, keeping the familiar "how did I get here" neurosis,
yet juxtaposing the idyllic setting with modern day monotony. The pay-off comes
as the track segues into Boney M's 70s hit Daddy Cool with hair-raising
Akela is the single, another chiming anthem trumping Shockwaves. Look too for the bonus track, a remix of Akela by the reliable Styrofoam. Expert is the holding track at the center of the album. A well-executed marriage of Interpol and British
Sea Power right down to the "salty tears" in the lyric. Then onto Senkrecht Waagerecht, which opens with the discipline of Editors (Open Your Arms) before ending in a blazing reinterpretation of Kate Bush's Cloudbusting.
This astonishing album peaks with The Deepest Blue. Another dance-fuelled
indie-stomp again bringing to mind Editors, especially on the line "if I had
more discipline I would force it for you". Yet The Deepest Blue has
more urgency than the UK outfit, adding to the atmosphere of mental frailty.
I'll wager Confuse The Cat's gigs are twice the fun as a result. At its close,
the track fragments into oceanic white noise. We know it's a false ending,
yet it still almost comes as a shock when the sweeping finale We Can Break
Intelligent and infectious - if you want to Dance to the radio, then iForward Belgium! Give me a wail, kitty cat.