Album review: CATS IN SPACE – Atlantis

CATS IN SPACE – Atlantis

Harmony Factory [Release date 27.11.20]

On new album, “Atlantis”, it seems the new CIS line up, with vocalist Damien Edwards replacing Mark Pascall, has largely abandoned the iconoclastic tone of its predecessor, “Daytrip To Narnia”

That of course, is down to the band’s talented and experienced driving force, Greg Hart. And if the lyrics, in again sidestepping the normal “love and hearbreak” themes of pop and rock, don’t make quite the same impact as the last album, he is adept at weaving everyday life into tales worth telling.

But it’s a slow start.

Despite opener ‘Dive’s affectionate nod to the Fab Four’s inventive way with watery SFX, neither ‘Spaceship Superstar’ or ‘Revolution’ reach escape velocity, both reminding us of a time when glamrock teetered on its stackheels, never to regain its footing.

Then the album comes alive.

The well thumbed power pop blueprint feeds again into Hart’s songcraft. The soaring ‘Listen To The Radio’, and the peerlessly smart pop of ‘Sunday Best’ catch a welcome wave of nostalgia, full of beautifully descending bass line harmonies, satisfying chord progressions and memorably melodic hooks.

And on the self deprecating, autobiographical ‘I Fell Out Of Love With Rock’n'Roll’, sketched around a melancholy piano, Hart again shows the dazzling range of musical moves that illuminated previous recordings. It’s unarguably the album’s standout track. And in fact arguably the standout track of all CIS releases so far.

Cleverly, he follows it with something entirely different. His sharp edged rhetoric cuts a cynical path through the entertainment business on ‘Marionette’; ‘Queen Of The Neverland’ throws a few melodic rock shapes, recalling GTS and Moritz; ‘Magic Loving Feeling’s blend of blues/roots music sits neatly on a melodic pop rock foundation.

And so on…

Closing with the title track is daring, but that’s the confidence this band now has. It’s written by Hart with band co-founder (and drummer) Steevi Bacon, and while it lacks the hefty emotional punch that we now expect, it is shaped by a strong, driven sense of yearning, as an older Johnny Rocket looks back on the world of his youth while coming to terms with the present.

The story continues… ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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