2005 – Virgin Records
The second album from eclectic Australian group The Cat Empire is a great piece of work. The dance rhythms work perfectly to get you up on your feet and it’s, on the whole, incredibly fun to listen to.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously and you can almost hear how much the band are smiling and enjoying what they do, which is always something nice to hear. Tracks like The Car Song and Lullaby are so wonderfully optimistic that one would have to be devoid of soul to not get into them. However, others like Sol Y Sombre and The Night That Never End do get a bit too caught up in their traditional Cuban sounds and lose their charm somewhat. Another small issue with this record is that some of the tracks tend to drag on a little too long and consequently their fun gets a bit old.
Apart from the jumping excitement another highlight for me are the rap songs like Party Started which import the band’s folk and jazz inspired music into some well crafted rhymes. They also self consciously remove the ‘gangsta’ elements that have become all too common in hip-hop music these days, and this, to my mind, makes for a much more enjoyable and relatable experience.
I would say that Two Shoes is a great record, but it is not the best record to follow up the groups self titled first album which was just pure mastery of good-times tunes. The Cat Empire have here occasionally tried to dabble their dancing feet in the dark waters of seriousness, which is not where the strength of the band lies. These more sober tracks aren’t bad, but they are definitely a step away from the kind of music that makes this band so great to listen to. They are definitely more suited to the world of parties than the serious art realm.
To conclude, Two Shoes is a good record, but it is not great. What it does it does well, and at many points it does it extremely well, but at other points it doesn’t quite reach the heights I think it could. It’s well worth a listen, but it’s in no way the be all and end all of fun fusion rock.
One of the standout tracks from The Cat Empire’s second album Two Shoes