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Summer Cats - Songs for Tuesdays

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Artist: Summer Cats

Album: Songs for Tuesdays

Label: Slumberland

Review date: Jul. 14, 2009

If the band Summer Cats were to become real-life incarnations of their feline namesakes, they’d bat balls of yarn or swat at butterflies. Back alley strays they are not. This Australian quintet plays pop music of the bright and shiny variety, fitting in nicely on the newly resurrected Slumberland label The warm glow of golden-age indie rock is all over Songs for Tuesdays.

It’s easy to hear any number of noisy pop outfits in the band’s familiar sound – from the Go-Betweens and the Wedding Present to Velocity Girl and Unrest. Tracks such as “Super,” “Fulton Gurls,” and “Christopher Wren” display a strong knowledge of vintage 1960s and ‘70s pop hooks, and the bouncy, sun-kissed melodies feel almost too perfect.

That last part is both the appeal and the problem on Songs for Tuesdays. The songs often sound as if they were generated with a secret logarithm created by Carl Newman and passed down furtively from Vancouver to Melbourne. “Lonely Planet” is practically a New Pornographer’s cover, replete with driving keyboards and a soaring multi-harmony chorus.

None of this is to say that Summer Cats should go the way of so many current bands and obscure their obvious strengths with lo-fi crud. It’s just that there’s a distinct lack of unpredictability here. It’s not born from redundancy, but rather what feels like the noble goal of precision.

Songs for Tuesdays is a fine, fun record that will no doubt appeal to the “pop kids” who get a shout out it in the album credits, in addition to tickling the nostalgia fancy of anyone who came of age on Teenbeat, Simple Machines, and the original incarnation of Slumberland. Yet for playing such bubbly feel-good music, you kind of want the Summer Cats to lighten up a little.

By Nate Knaebel

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