Midway through the smoothly impressive ballad A Big Balloon, the realisation dawns on you that there is quite literally no avenue of investigation that has been left unpoked by Brit pomp rock Godz Cats In Space on new album Kickstart The Sun in their bid to bring you music that is, to paraphrase the mighty John Parr, the best an ear can get; How else, you realise, would such a sublime song exist were it not for the skill of our heroes to bring together fabulous moments in rock and pop history in one easy-to-digest package. The song in question somehow fuses the chorus melody of Backstreet Boys‘ I Want It That Way to something off of Renaissance‘s 1978 folk-prog odyssey A Song For All Seasons; However such is the skill of this band that the resultant mashup sounds like neither, but is better than both. And that’s a rare skill indeed to possess.
It’s employed again on the potential feel good hit of the summer Last Dance Saloon, wherein memories of The Beach Boys and ELO duke it out in quest for nostalgia-soaked supremacy, but it would be wrong to write off the Cats as mere memory-mining chancers. They do evoke happy memories of better times throughout Kickstart The Sun‘s mammoth fifteen-song run time, sure, but it’s always done on the band’s terms and, in this collection of tracks, it’s done once again to underline just how much this band has come to deserve to be regarded at the same level as those bands they quote throughout the album. In 2022, they are the undisputed kings of British classic rock.
The three set-piece tracks that form the guts of the album – King of Stars, Bootleg Bandoleros and the title track all prove this assessment, seeing the band once more raising their own particular bar to heights they and those of us who were around at the beginning of this journey could scarcely have dreamed of; Key to this is the spellbinding, goosebump-inducing vocal performance of Damian Edwards who, despite only being with the band for the last couple of albums sings with an authority and command that suggests he has been doing this for a long, long time… his bravura performance on the piano-led ballad 1,000,000 Miles leads the listener to the conclusion that he may well have been born to sing the songs of CIS head honcho Greg Hart, such is the pair’s effortless synchronicity.
Talking of Hart, he and guitar partner Dean Howard pile on the axe pressure whenever called upon – a more versatile six string pairing you’d be hard-pressed to find – whilst Andy Stewart colours and augments with a bewildering range of keyboard colours and hues; his work on first single Poke The Witch is a particular highlight.
Drummer Steevi Bacon and bassist Jeff Brown keep the engine room humming, and their solid work gives the more intricate tunes a firm base from which to fly, whilst giving the power pop of tracks like Teenage Millionaires and this writer’s particular fave, Smoke and Mirrors, the requisite amount of rhythmic heft required to really punch the music home.
Remarkably for a fifteen track album, there is little or no material on Kickstart the Sun that could be dismissed as filler; from it’s opening Uriah Heep-styled backing vocals to it’s gong-assisted guitar freakout at the end, this is an album of one hundred per cent prime musical muscle, and should be celebrated as such. As the old guard continues to whither on the vine in a weakening farrago of studio-enhanced live performance and general timid acceptance of advancing years, Cats In Space stand as a beacon for proper, all guns blazing rock and roll. That’s why we love them, and why you’ll love this big beast of an album when you get the chance to hear it.
Kickstart The Sun releases on July 29th.