Cats In Space - Scarecrow

Cats In Space Scarecrow cover
Cats In Space
Harmony Factory
I was surprised, scratch that, amazed, when I heard the debut album by UK sextet Cats In Space, who feature in their ranks a number of seasoned musicians who had success in decades past but only came together a couple of years ago to form this new band. Taking only a year they came up with an equally amazing album as their debut, if not better. Their 70s classic rock, with big hooks and AOR sensibilities owes a lot to Kansas and Boston as it does to ELO and 10CC, but all their influences are accumulated perfectly and their identity is quite unique in its own right.
“Jupiter Calling”, that opens the album, has a strong “Boston” spacey vibe, but I mention that as much as a compliment as it can be. Without miming their heroes, they come up with something that comes very close to the “spaceship” in full flight. Good Job.
“Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” is a lot quirkier and ELOish, with glorious harmonies and some ultra-catchy melodies, unlike what you may have heard in recent times. It pokes fun at modern society and how “social media” make our lives more “fake” as everyone’s becoming increasingly superficial.
“Clown in Your Nightmare” sounds like Kiss’ illegitimate child with Pink Floyd. A bit like Styx, but not quite…?! Flashy, but also introspective it makes exemplary use of vocal layering and keys.
“Scars” with its harmonica opening is hauntingly beautiful, as it tries to heal past aches and move forward, it starts timidly but explodes with a gracious and epic chorus that really brings elation around.
“September Rain” reminded me of softer Journey or Steve Winwood in some ways and a lot of other contemporaries of them. It takes a “snapshot” of a happy moment in time and is beautifully nostalgic, but without sounding dated, as its warm contemporary production and Paul Manzi’s amazing vocals, keep it from failing.
“Broken Wing” is fantastic and it’s got a strong Magnum meets Queen pomp along with some Uriah Heep mannerisms and a sweet solo. Fantastic.
“Two (minutes) Fifty Nine” begins in a familiar way, but is driven by a fantastic little riff and has Manzi gloriously singing in a way that’s a little reminiscent of Phil Collins fronted Genesis. Amazing harmonies, but I would like to get a clue about that title. Which upon inspection is an inside joke – about the number “itself” being short enough, so as to warrant airplay. Jesus the kids these days even the “big ones”. Especially “the big ones”.
“Felix & The Golden Sun” has a careless air, think The Beatles, but in the 70s and sounding quirky psychedelic and jovial. Cool!
Timebomb” is another infectious number, with an upbeat melody and a ton of stacked vocal harmonies that they keep on pushing, until there’s nothing more to do than finish the track on the highest note they can ! Hehe…
Last but not least, comes the title track “Scarecrow”, a bit of a cautionary fairy-tale prog number that’s epic as it’s great in managing to take all these “old” influences and breathe new life into them, making them new again…
Impressive! These guys do pompous 70s inspired rock like no other, while also putting their own stamp on it, as if they were true masters of the genre. I just hope that enough people are listening…