Album review: CATS IN SPACE – Diamonds (The Best Of)

CATS IN SPACE - Diamonds (The Best Of)

Harmony Factory [Release date 10.09.21]

The last time I saw CiS was in December 2019 – little did we know that a few months later the live music scene would change dramatically.  A pre-Xmas gig it certainly emphasised just how far the band have developed since their beginnings in 2015.

Since that time they have also added vocalist Damien Edwards replacing Mark Pascall who replaced original band member Paul Manzi.  This lack of continuity in respect of the front-person is regrettable in terms of band identity but these things happen.

I am always a bit suspicious when a band feels compelled to bring out a greatest hits with a new singer.  Perhaps the real reason is that the songs now sound better, having been remixed, and not just for Edwards’ contribution.

Often a live album is all that’s needed by way of update and we do get a live track in the shape of set highlight ‘Greatest Story Never Told’ which now sounds better than ever.

What ‘Diamonds’ does reiterate is that CiS are great songwriters and players with a genuine love of classic pop rock.  As ever, if they wear their influences firmly on sleeves it is always very well executed.

If the band are torchbearers for a certain nostalgic pop rock style, as I mentioned in my 2019 live review “You wonder, what next for the band? Will they persist with pastiche or fashion something more individual?”

Throughout, in some of their best-known songs, there has been a cynicism about the music business expressed in their lyrics (‘Silver And Gold’, ‘Hologram Man’, ’2.59′. ‘I Fell Out Of Love With Rock ‘N’ Roll’ all included here).  There is a certain novelty value in this when first heard but after some time it just gets a bit whingy, frankly, and potentially distracting.

To some extent the band’s last studio album (with Edwards on board) – ‘Atlantis’ – was a bold attempt to break the cliches but that wrestless dissatisfaction with the music industry and celebrity that permeated previous offerings remained.  Three tracks are featured here.

Six years on, you get the feeling that Cats In Space are still a little bit out of their time and in another era would have been huge.  Sadly, without persistent mainstream radio exposure and a weekly TV pop show, their momentum – in spite of smart and persistent marketing – remains a little uneven.  That is more a reflection of where we are with music in 2021, and notwithstanding the pandemic.  A great band nevertheless.  ****

Review by David Randall

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