Cats On Fire - All Blackshirts To Me

matcd061  /  March 2012
Cats On Fire - All Blackshirts To Me
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Cats On Fire - All Blackshirts To Me

matcd061  /  March 2012

Brilliant third full-length album from Finland’s fashionable indie darlings Cats on Fire!

The band’s previous albums ‘The Province Complains’ (2007) and ‘Our Temperance Movement’ (2009) were widely acclaimed in the music press, including reviews in All Music Guide, The Big Takeover, Blurt, The Line of Best Fit, Mojo, NME, Pitchfork, and Pop Matters, among others. The band has played countless shows across Scandinavia, continental Europe, the UK and the US, including sets at the prestigious Emmaboda festival in Sweden, the Indietracks festival in England, and the New York City and San Francisco popfests.

The highly anticipated new album ‘All Blackshirts To Me’ is an unequivocal success. While showcasing the astute lyrical reflections of Mattias Björkas (lead vocals, guitar), the album also reveals a more adventurous approach. Ville Hopponen (guitar, percussion) brings quirk and soul with his multi-instrumentalist wizardry, and Mattias even dares to let a few synthesized sounds into the mix, lightening up the band’s previously rather rigorous acoustic dogmas. Ably backed by Kenneth Höglund (bass) and new members Iiris Viljanen (piano, backing vocals) and Yrjö Ylijoki (drums), ‘All Blackshirts To Me’ is by far the richest sounding Cats on Fire album yet.

Lead single ‘My Sense of Pride’ is luxurious pop at its finest and perhaps quintessential Cats on Fire. Among the album’s other highlights, ‘A Few Empty Waves’ is an intriguing maritime tale with instantly memorable chorus and nice bursts of vibraphone, and ‘A Different Light’ is short smart pop with enticing melodies and lyrics. The album’s political observations are showcased on songs such as ‘1914 and Beyond’, a piano rich commentary on European affairs, and ‘Smash It To Pieces’, which juxtaposes contemptuous lyrics against jaunty, singalong pop with female harmonies and whistling.

Rich, intelligent and cosmopolitan, ‘All Blackshirts To Me’ is an accomplished pop triumph from one of the most celebrated indie groups of today.

  1. Our Old Centre Back
  2. My Sense Of Pride
  3. A Different Light
  4. There Goes The Alarm
  5. After The Fact
  6. The Sea Within You
  7. 1914 and Beyond
  8. Well Well What Do You Know
  9. Smash It To Pieces
  10. It's Clear Your Former Lover
  11. A Few Empty Waves
  12. Finnish Lace


Forget indie-pop stereotypes, Cats on Fire are just great. A wet Wednesday night in London, and a handbag is repeatedly hitting us in the face. We don't care, because we're dancing – as is the handbagger – to the best pop music being made on the planet right now. The crew responsible for ramming out the steaming Bull and Gate is Finland's fantastic Cats on Fire, fondly loved in Europe yet virtually unknown in the UK, where they have difficulty even getting their records released. That's odd, considering the three albums they've given us since 2007 do nothing less than reinject possibilities, politics, wit, erudition and joy into guitar pop. We're not just here, nose-to-nipple, because we love Cats on Fire, or because they also happen to be the best-looking band on Earth. We're here because 2007's The Province Complains contained I Am The White Mantled King, one of the greatest songs of this millennium; because 2009's Our Temperance Movement was the most pristinely perfect pop album seemingly no one but us ever heard; because this year's All Blackshirts To Me is, impossibly, even better. Cats on Fire are sleeping on someone's floor tonight. By rights, it should be the Queen's; by rights, as everyone here knows, they should be stars. "I don't love music more than anything else," admits the lead singer and songwriter Mattias Bjorkas, "which means I haven't been blinded by the love of music. And I have certainly not been blinded by money. I was a very straight-edge, socialist youth – Cats on Fire has been my lesson in frustration and dealing with second-bests sometimes, but we try to always make the music move on and matter." The five-piece has come together in fits and starts from the small, isolated town of Vaasa, sharpening and solidifying their magic every step of the way. "No music industry tentacles were long enough to reach as far up north as we were in Vaasa," Bkorkas says. "But trying to be loved was always my main preoccupation, whatever political or musical ideas I may have presented as the true spirit of Cats on Fire. I nurtured the idea of a small, provincial army that was musically righteous and ready to strike against the trendy, metropolitan hypocrisy." All Blackshirts to Me is a fab mix of classic indie-pop shimmer, radiant cynicism, and joyously open-hearted wonder. Whether it's the strung-out doom of Our Old Centre Back ("But if you think I look good in a beret/ Then I'd be more than happy to be there and get the chance to say/ That art just imitates football"), the bittersweet honesty of My Sense of Pride ("I've been an idiot for years/ Now I speak in a lower voice to blend in/ And I try not to dress up queer"), or the stunning lullaby to old Europa that is 1914 and Beyond ("Greece don't pay your debts/ don't bother with the debts/ Iceland, go on and cover us in ashes"), Cats on Fire seemingly can't help making indie-pop matter again. They make songs you can't shake and write lyrics that stop your day in its tracks, the sound exquisitely puckered throughout by Ville Hopponen's addictive licks, Iiris Viljanen's poptastic keyboards, and the band's sheer stealth and grace. The last time you felt this way about indie-pop was Pulp. Yeah – that good. Judging by tonight's rapturous reception, it's only their own shyness that's stopping Cats on Fire becoming major stars. "In big cities," Bjorkas says, "we observe all the other groups of four or five people with good haircuts, unable to shake the worst thought of all – that each of these 10,000 bands had an idea as valid as our own. They don't. Not by a long chalk. European album of the year. Avail yourselves immediately.   --The Guardian
I don't know if you've scanned this year's NYC Popfest line-up but it's pretty impressive, with Comet Gain, L Mag faves Allo Darlin', The Wave Pictures, 90s twee power poppers The Pooh Sticks, and White Town (yes Your Woman White Town) just to name a few. Yet every year when it's announced I'm looking for one name: Cats on Fire. The Finnish band played back-to-back Fests in 08 and 09, and were belles of the ball both times, with their immaculately arpeggiated indiepop and frontman Mattias Bjorkas' onstage dance moves. No luck this year, again, but there is a consolation prize. Cats on Fire's third album, All Blackshirts to Me, is out this week and it's their most varied, accomplished work to date. Where previous albums wore their indiepop influences (Smiths, Felt, Orange Juice) on the sleeves of their cardigans, the band have found their own sound that nods at the past without being indebted to it. It's also the their mellowest record, and most minor-key melancholic. The downcast vibe suits Bjorkas' lyrics, which are generally bitter, politically-motivated and often bitingly funny. He knows his way around a turn of phrase ("You mistook me for the painter at the private view / I was merely standing in the champagne queue") and his contempt for those who tow the line, conform and keep their voices down, allowing themselves to be pushed around by various bullies (governments, corporations, local fascist organizations) comes through loud and clear. In a delicate jangly kind of way. Like all good protest singers, Bjorkas delivers his medicine with a spoonful of sugar. While the album contains fewer of the kind of jaunty numbers that get popfest crowds moving than on previous records, Bjorkas' keen sense of melody remains intact. The anthemic "A Different Light," "My Sense of Pride," with its gentle country shuffle, and the slowly building "A Few Empty Waves" are among his catchiest tunes. Guitarist Ville Hopponen colors them with exquisite, subtle flourishes. The album's best song may be "1914 and Beyond," which sets the European economic crisis against a lovely, spare piano backing. Like the rest of All Blackshirts to Me, even when the specifics seem foreign, the melody lingers.   --The L Magazine
Gawwshucks, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit at my age but I’m in love. I don’t just love this album, or the band who made it. You throw love at products. This isn’t a product, it gives you too much. This is the only true masterpiece I’ve heard in two years and I’m IN love, head over heels, and as with any infatuation all the clichés reveal their truth fresh again, all the pangs of heart and soul become reanimated, you remember how pop can go beyond matching your thoughts and actually start transcribing your pulse, your precarious balance between hope and despair, resignation and aggravation. I thought pop music in this agile, ADHD age would never make me feel like this again, obsessed, living and loving and lurching and lounging in these songs to the exclusion of all else. But All Blackshirts To Me is one of those records that simply won’t become background, is impossible to live with rather than live within, a record you’d be a prick to ignore. And I can’t help but be alternately evangelical & furious because it illuminates truth like holy fire and couldn’t even find a label to release itself on over here. I can’t just be happy I own it and leave it at that and hope you dig it too, I NEED to press this fantastic plastic, this concrete chimerical CLASSIC into your lives right fkn now. Because I give huge fucks about you hearing it, because time is short, and there’s a world to win. Must admit, I was worried about All Blackshirts To Me. Cats On Fire’s last LP Our Temperance Movement was such a bolt from the blue, such a pristine and perfect shot of joy to the head I couldn’t see how it could be topped, worried when I heard the band were ‘dissatisfied’ with Temperance and wanted the music to get ‘deeper’. Needn’t have worried – yes the music here has more shade and suggestion than Temperance’s straight-ahead popgasmic bliss, but c’mon, it’s been two years, two years in which the continent’s collapse has got worse, two years in which glimpses of love, feeling the sun on your face, has become even more of a struggle to attain. Cats On Fire aren’t a band that can ignore the world. Their music is intimately connected with what it means to be alive right now, the evil deals and blessed bargains you have to make on a daily basis to retain your sanity. They are that most impossible and rare of things: a guitar band that matters, that doesn’t see pop as either pure escape or agglomeration of borrowed moments of past-meaning. They give pop it’s true due, by refusing to create songs that are just songs, only making music if it touches you on all levels, speaks across the room to you with no dumb-down or posture. That’s why All Blackshirts becomes music you don’t use, but that uses you, music to live with, music to make life feel tangibly different. This is its true revelation and revolution. All Blackshirts isn’t just a collection of great songs. It’s a model of thought and life. It raises your standards as you listen and does it through joy, harmonies and words that resonate with a continental-sized clamour. Music that fkn MATTERS again. And that you can sing along to. All Blackshirts swings with the lightness and finesse of a band looking in on the heat and chaos of auld Europa from a position of glacial remove. Right in the middle of the album is this song, ‘1914 And Beyond’, a song quite unlike any other I’ve heard this year, full of words and melody, all of it astonishing. New member Iiris Viljanen’s keyboards are weighted perfectly ‘tween ballad and nursery rhyme (the addition of female backing vocals has also added exactly what COF needed vocally, harmonies even clearer and crystalline than they were before), Mattias’ words a searing look at everywhere we’ve been and where the drift onward might go, “Greece don’t pay your debts/Don’t bother with the debts/ Iceland, go on and cover us in ashes/Don’t let the parting upset you/Cos we will meet again”. It’s a breathtaking, elegiac, weighty thing for a song to attempt, let alone carry off, the kind of poetic ambition and political bite you thought had been written out of ‘our’ music. Helps as well that COF are finally sounding effortless, natural, whole – not that previous albums didn’t have moments like that, but they became albums with highlights you went for. All Blackshirts is one big highlight. You find yourself clicking the repeat button and living in it for days. Throughout, All Blackshirts is a reminder of exactly what a band can do with pop, exactly how pop is the form that can be the most revolutionary music in your life, can do things politically and melodically and lyrically and sonically – SIMULTANEOUSLY. There’s an extra layer of suggestion going on in COF’s sound now, a fuller sense of space and silence that makes the moments when the band fully flowers truly heart stopping, skin-puckering. Always contact-high addictive-licks from Ville Hopponen but where previously his precision had sounded almost TOO perfect to be true, here his playing’s allowed to live and breathe, the machinery allowed to hum and frazzle a little, a tactile sense of space and atmosphere immediately THERE as soon as each song starts. My highlight, ‘Rise & Fall’ is just exquisite, barely there, a tiny fold of a song which opens up the vastness of the vistas within us all, a heroic song, a thoughtful walk in the rain and wind captured, the ache and glow of our defeats and convictions evoked with chest-thrumming delicacy – last time around COF wouldn’t have known how to end it, here they end it in a beaming girder of Talk Talk-style noise that works beautifully. A band finally moved by songs, not the other way around. You’ll feel proud to even know this record exists. You’ll get the same evangelical bug I have, the feel that people need arming with this, the faint disbelief that people can cope with life without it. And crucially, pop stompers throughout. MODERN pop stompers. They’ve made a record that performs that ace trick of sounding like it couldn’t have come from any time but right now, but with songs that touch you, that become part of you in a way you didn’t think your modern agility could countenance anymore. Sources are there if you wanna spoil the show but you realise the irrelevance as you list them, realise how much more than the sum of parts All The Blackshirts is, realise how massively more than music is going on (e.g ‘After The Fact’, if you’re looking, is the sound of Postcard, the sound of ‘Nite Flites’, the sound of ‘Sulk’, the sound of ‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’ AND of course, the sound of none of those things. It’s a Cats On Fire song). Bjorkas’ voice is crucial – first time I heard it I nearly (god, it scares me now to think of it) ditched ‘em cos it sounded like Morrissey. That was just my arsehole prejudice though: Bjorkas’ voice does things Moz couldn’t dream of, carries his accent clearly, tightropes between yearning and indolence, somehow remains utterly bereft of affectation but wobbles and breaks in ways that skewer your heart more than any showier theatrics could ever manage. And he’s written the best songs he’s ever writ for that voice - in the lazy discipline, in the way COF have pulled together to make this, by the time you’re through to the supra-spectral psaltery of ‘Finnish Lace’ that new focus they seem to have starts feeling heroic, unique, entirely at odds with COF’s status as obscure Finnish ‘indie-rock’ band. So far Cats On Fire’s audience has been the proudly schmindie, the shuffling, the twee. Utterly fkn wrong. Time for us normal stars to claim them as our own. No band on earth is being as clear, as suggestive, as nip-stiffeningly righteous in sound and word and vision right now. S’too short, this existence malarkey. We should only be letting music in that makes it different, better, fresher, new. Music that says, onwards, that feels like company, consolation for life. European album of the year. Get it, live it, love it.   --Collapse Board
When listening to carefully curated Cats on Fire catch-up "Dealing In Antiques" in 2010, the phrase "sophisticated sea shanties" came to mind, and we haven't been able to shake it since. And as "All Blackshirts To Me" amply proves, the kernel of CoF's increasing appeal is that while on the one hand they archly deploy deeply post-modernist alternative popskills, glistening with irony and layering and the odd soaring hook, on the other they're increasingly leavening proceedings with arrangements and instrumentation that seem to reflect a folk tradition, a simpler and less cynical age. Plus, as we've become pretty familiar with maps of Finland recently (grindcore research purposes, mainly) we know that Vaasa is a coastal town, so now we're hearing a maritime ebb and flow to everything they do. The flaming felines' latest offering pivots between nod-and-a-wink intelligent pop in the vein of Edwyn, Mozza or any number of 70s-80s classicists ("After The Fact" could have been written by Elvis Costello, and would set the FM dial positively aglow, while the charming narratives of opening salvos "Our Old Centre-Back" and "My Sense Of Pride" see the Cats filing their formal claim to inherit The Lucksmiths' formidable mantle as lyrically-dextrous storytellers supreme), and set-pieces of thoughtful artistic whimsy (the outstanding "1914 And Beyond" manages to teach us a piano-led lesson from 98 years of European history). Elsewhere, "It's Clear Your Former Lover" manages to live up to what must be the title of the year. Only on the (possibly) populist-baiting "Smash It To Pieces" do things feel a little workaday, a touch throwaway. For us the twin peaks of the record, which illustrate just how powerful a proposition the Cats have become, are "A Different Light" and "A Few Empty Waves". The former is as close as CoF come to the plaintive, reach-for-the-sky pop of Matinée labelmates Northern Portrait, but lyrically it's darker (this is where the blackshirts come in), with Mattias' narration wringing maximum effect from some well-marshalled ambiguity. The latter is very different: a widescreen maritime pop hit, with traces of Morrissey's finest solo work, that rides the tide of the Gulf of Bothnia with gutsy aplomb. Followed only by dulcet instrumental closer "Finnish Lace", "Empty Waves" is effectively the suitably grande finale to a smart and stylish album.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
It would be nice to think that if Finland's Cats On Fire were from the UK that they, along with fellow Scandinavian Anglophiles such as The Shout Out Louds or The Mary Onettes, would be a more widely recognised name in this country. Realistically, location is unlikely to make much difference in the current musical climate, as even the hordes of British bands in thrall to jangly indie heroes of the 1980s are achieving cult status at best. It's doubly exasperating in this case because, for what it is, 'All Blackshirts To Me' is pretty much perfect. Of course sounding a bit like The Smiths and being able to pen a tidy set of tunes is unlikely to win any awards, but on this, their third full-length, it really feels as though Cats On Fire have come of age, and like a ripe piece of fruit fresh from the branch, these dozen songs are deliciously enticing and fulfilling. From 'Our Old Centre Back' (a title, and indeed song, that might as well be plucked from an old Wedding Present or Half Man Half Biscuit album) through to the final strands of 'Finnish Lace' there's not a rotten apple to be found. Single 'My Sense Of Pride' is shined to perfection, avoiding fashionable lo-fi production in favour of something more streamlined, but even that is outshone by the insanely melodic 'A Different Light' and 'A Few More Waves'. Even the more unassuming likes of 'There Goes The Alarm', the beautiful 'The Sea Within You' or the apocalyptic, Eurozone-bemoaning '1914 And Beyond' and are gently irresistible. 'After The Fact' brings us the interesting news that a hybrid of The Jam and The Cure can be a good thing. The only real surprise may be the consistency, but there's a lot to be said for the simple joy of a great bunch of tunes and that's exactly what 'All Blackshirts To Me' is.   --Sounds XP
Do any pop bands write political songs anymore? One might think that in this day and age there would be at least one or two new Billy Braggs with the ability to mix pop and politics. Is everyone afraid to take a trip down the Che Guevara Highway for fear of not selling records in red states? Surely there are a few singers still out there that have an opinion and enough conviction to sing about it. Well, there’s at least one. Finland’s Cats on Fire return with their third album and on it is one of the best political songs I have heard since the Great Leap Forward. 1914 and Beyond chronicles Europe beginning with World War I to the continent’s current state and the European Union’s present-day near collapse. It is set to sad waltzing piano with clear lyrics set to just enough melody to get your attention in case you weren’t paying attention. Once you are, it gets dark, very dark, but it’s totally appropriate for theses tough financial times when old prejudices and hatreds come to a boil after the good times come to an end and money runs out. All Blackshirts To Me is not all political, but its title indicates singer Mathias Björkas dour outlook. He’s often been compared to Morrissey, and he still has a delivery that recalls the Moz, but he also has a melancholy that brings to mind Terry Hall and some of the spite in his voice that reminds me of the Auteurs‘ Luke Haines. He certainly knows his way around a melody like those fellows. Songs like It’s Clear Your Former Lover, A Different Light and first single A Few Empty Waves are seemingly delicate things, but show their strength on repeated listening. Björkas is the focal point of the band, but this album also sees the band expanding its sound. They’ve added a fifth member Iris Viiljanen on Keyboards and have a new drummer in Yrjö Ylijoki. The keyboards add a subtle new dimension and while there really aren’t any upbeat songs as on previous albums, the arrangements are much more lush sounding and interesting which makes All Blackshirts To Me a real winner and possibly Cats On Fire’s finest record yet.   --The Finest Kiss
The long-running Scandinavian indie poppers Cats on Fire took their time developing their sound over the course of a handful of sporadically released singles and albums in their first decade of existence. All Blackshirts to Me is the band's third proper album, following a singles collection and 2009's Smiths-seeped Our Temperance Movement. The album's meticulous arrangements and sublime production speak to the band's fastidious attention to detail, and over the course of the 12 songs, Cats on Fire sculpt a crystal-clear, acoustic-leaning indie pop sound that borrows heavy from classic indie heroes but filters them through the band's collective personality. Singer and principal songwriter Mattias Björkas' vocals take on the same removed affectation as those of Adam Olenius, lead singer for the band's Swedish contemporaries Shout Out Louds. Both singers' emulations of '80s indie goth icons like Morrissey and the Cure's Robert Smith aim for the essence of those influences, but their own unique perspectives and songwriting quirks factor in, making the end result something further removed than simple mimicry. A similar phenomenon happens in a larger sense with Cats on Fire as a whole. They have always worn their influences pretty heavy on their sleeve, be it the dour college rock of the Smiths, Felt, and Orange Juice, the breezy wistfulness of the Go-Betweens, or even touches of Elvis Costello's acidic power pop. Tracks like "It's Clear Your Former Lover" and "A Few Empty Waves" brim with the same confessional feel of vintage Robyn Hitchcock or Verlaines tracks, but somewhere between Ville Hopponen's burning guitar tones and Björkas' odd lyrics about travel, drinking, and smashing guitars, the songs take on a shape all their own. "After the Fact" is much the same, starting with a choppy pop beat but quickly adding delayed mandolin strums, floating vocals, and an oddly disjointed bridge, taking the song out of Smiths territory into uncharted waters. All Blackshirts to Me transcends its influences through interesting production and writing choices like these. In the end, the album feels like a very personal and slightly awkward diary entry set to music, mirroring some favorite bands but still focused on saying something new.   --All Music Guide
Having followed Finnish act Cats on Fire for quite some time, I was a little surprised with my initial run through of All Blackshirts to Me. But, having spent several days wrapped up in the record, I can say with affirmation that this is the most accomplished recording the band’s put together yet, which will surely have fans of any sort of indie-pop raving over the group. “Our Old Centre Back” begins the affair, making light-hearted comparisons between football (soccer) and art/life. Sadly, the lyrics seem to indicate that the centre back wins the heart of Mattias desire, rather than the narrator himself. The solemn attitude definitely is something that sticks with you throughout the run of the album. It’s followed by “My Sense of Pride,” which more closely resembles the recent output of Cats on Fire; it has the jangle and the pacing of previous works, but Bjorkas still seems forlorn. It’s a personal sentiment that should be clear with just one quick glance at the title, All Blackshirts to Me. What I really enjoy about these purveyors of pop is that this time around they’re not rushing the songs or the sentiment. Several of the tracks border on the 4 minute mark, or go beyond, which allows the emotional to be built up slowly. ”There Goes the Alarm” is one such song, barely trickling along, repeating lyrics time and time again. It’s as captivating a song as the band has composed, and even in its brooding softness, you cannot escape the affecting qualities. Still, other longs songs like “A Few Empty Waves” have the ability to sweep you away, no matter what point of the song you choose to focus on. This track opens with an acoustic strumming and Bjorkas laments, but it quickly jumps into the majestic, as the rest of Cats on Fire joins in with drums and electric guitar. There’s something about the vocal delivery and the musical composition itself that grabs you and takes you away into some other state–a true sign of musical genius/prowess. Perhaps the greatest success in All Blackshirts to Me lays in the sequencing of the tracks. You can get tracks with the angular stomp like “After the Fact,” used to pick up the speed of the record, but then they’ll slow it down beyond where they’ve gone before with another number like “1914 and Beyond,” a track draped around a nice piano backbone. No matter where the album turns, or where you jump in, several minutes of listening will take you all over the map, yet still maintain the intended emotion of the record’s entirety. Personally, I think I’m more in love with this Cats on Fire effort than with anything they’ve done before, which is saying quite a bit. From the personal sentiment to the discussions of European economics, it all fits uniquely within the spectrum of All Blackshirts to Me. If you’re looking for something spectacular yet emotionally moving, then do what feels right, and fall in love with the latest release from this Finnish act.   --Austin Town Hall
Finland isn’t famous for a whole lot, other than being bloody cold and full of alcoholics. On the music front, Finnrock spews out gallons of power/symphonic metal bands that are of little or no interest to the rest of the World. Today I am here to report a notable exception. It’s a band with the wonderful name of Cats On Fire and they play music far removed from metal. It’s indie pop, which I know is also a big turn off for many of you, but these guys create such a beautiful lush sound, I want you to listen up. Their excellent new album “All Blackshirts To Me” is just out and if this really is your bag you could do a whole lot worse than check out the rest of the Matinée Recordings catalog where they’re slowly cornering the market.   --God Is In The TV
It's been a long and frustrating road travelled for main Cats On Fire protagonist Mattias Björkas and company. The now five piece pop troubadors had their beginnings in the then somewhat small and isolated west coast Finnish town of Vaasa where in late 2002/early 2003 as an 18 year old Swedish speaking Björkas, Kenneth Höglund and initial members Kim and Johan put out a couple of demos and a debut EP, Solid Work, on vinyl to heartening reception in the Finnish big smoke, Helsinki. However, like many good starts, the initial buzz turned out to be a false dawn and despite moving to Turku, gaining Ville Hopponen and Henry Ojala (now the mastermind behind Burning Hearts) and despite releasing two more EPs over the next three years, the Cats On Fire project failed to make the right connections and stalled. Slowly though, a collective around Björkas began to take shape. Finally in a position where they could get people taking notice they were rejuvenated in the summer of 2006 and released their first album proper, The Province Complains, to deserved acclaim among the indie pop community throughout Europe. Two years later, they released the equally impressive Our Temperance Movement. Two prominent shows at NYC's 2008 and 2009 Popfest, alongside Ojala's Burning Hearts and Sweden's The Radio Dept. and it seemed things were starting to fall into place. The last three years then seem to have seen the band tread water again and you only need to do a quick English language search of the band on the web to understand that Cats On Fire, for some bizarre reason, haven't exactly set the English language world on fire over their long journey. It is hoped then that their new record All Blackshirts To Me will change all that. Once again incorporating traditional melodies with sparkling jangly pop that spans the ages, All Blackshirts To Me builds on the work done on previous releases but overall is more exploratory and diverse both in approach and sound. Still prevalent though is the intellectually and politically piercing lyrical content that has always characterised Cats On Fire, no better illustrated than on '1914 and Beyond', a track that contains pointed criticism for the European elites financial penchant for imposing austerity in the wake of the 2008 GFC, policies that serve to insulate and reward them from their fuck-ups while they fuck over ordinary people, policies so widely rejected by popular forces in both Greece and France in recent days. Bjorkas advises, "Greece don't pay your debts, don't bother with debts, Iceland, go on and cover us in ashes". Also present again are doses of withering self-criticism, clever self-deprecation and more than a flirtation with obtuse laden reality, lyrical qualities that Björkas has come to be renowned for. Throughout the album's eleven tracks, there's almost an encylopedic sense to Björkas's pop knowledge. While his vocals have always had a little Edwyn Collins about them, that's about where the similarities with bands like Orange Juice and other c1980 British bands end. Opener 'Our Old Centre Back', an example of Björkas's prediliction for playing the part of the one that loses out begins with a traditional flavour and combines old folk vocal stylings with laconic six string work. It also sets the tone of the record, that is Cats On Fire seem determined to deliberately play within themselves; the sum of its parts making up the whole. 'My Sense Of Pride' is a joyous listen with chiming guitars but lyrically is an example of the self deprecation aforementioned, "Takes courage to say I’ve been mistaken, I’ve been an idiot for years, Now I speak in a lower voice to blend in, I try not to dress up queer". 'A Different Light' is an absolute pop gem that begins with a soaring hook before settling down in a disciplined fashion before rising to flourishing finish.'There Goes The Alarm' is a sparkly ballad that hums away beautifully as intricate guitar arrangements dominate both in idea and execution throughout. Bjorkas completes the delicate nature of the track by vocally almost nursing his lyrics through. 'After The Fact' bounces along with angular bass prominent with gorgeous harmonies surrounding its chorus. 'The Sea Within' continues the trajectory and follows a traditional bent vocally and the melancholic, yet defiant European history lesson, the aforementioned, '1914 and Beyond', completes the middle section. 'Well Well What Do You Know' features Bjorkas and Iiris Viljanen, not for the first time delivering exquisite harmonies together in another irresistable traditional arrangement. 'Smash It To Pieces' evokes a mixture of a little bit of Belle And Sebastian at times together with good British and Irish nineteenth century folk. Standout track, 'A Few Empty Waves' is a sweeping statement of intent in terms of what All Blackshirts To Me is about - a band determined to keep relevant and vital. The track contains much power in its own restraint musically as Bjorkas uses the pitfalls of being at sea as a metaphor for the mixed experiences of Cats On Fire thus far. Closing track, the instrumental accordion dominated 'Finnish Lace' could almost be seen as a muted musical celebration, the culmination of a great record by artists that are satisfied but fully aware that music is but just one part of life. Throughout All Blackshirts To Me, Cats On Fire never overplay their hand. Each track stays firmly within itself, allowing the listener to come to each of them on his or her own terms. This has been something that the band have been known for throughout their career and perhaps one of the reasons they haven't 'cracked' the English language independent music world. One hopes this record will change that and early signs are that it will. The most pleasing thing out of that is the fact this very special pop band have always marched to the beat of their own drum. That they are producing their best work after eleven long years is testament to the band's timeless ability to add social and political intelligence as well as musical virtuosity to the full spectrum that pop has to offer. It may have been a long and hard road travelled over the past decade for Cats On Fire, but I for one hope that All Blackshirts To Me simply stands at the centre of another decade to come.   --Indie 30
Over fifteen years, Matinée have carved their own niche, truffling around for infectious pop melodies in unlikely places. Over the years, Jimmy Tassos has marshalled an army of bedroom-based popsters and long forgotten cult heroes; compiling a catalogue of imaginative and literate songs, without ever losing sight of the ‘pop’ aesthetic which Matinee committed itself to on its first seven inch vinyl. Instead of documenting a particular music scene, Matinee has instead collected likeminded minds from across the continents. Australians the Lucksmiths rub shoulders with France’s Ego, the UK’s the Windmills and Harper Lee, Denmark’s Champagne Riot, Sweden’s Azure Blue and even a few bands from Matinee’s native USA. Fitting in perfectly are Finland’s Cats on Fire. On their third full length album, ‘All Blackshirts To Me’, they neatly sum up all the things their label is good at. An instantly likable album, the songs that stand out on first listen are those that mosr obviously tip their caps to the indiepop scene; ‘A Different Light’ has loud guitars in all the right places and could have jumped straight off Morrissey’s first solo album, while ‘After the Fact’ has a Bruce Foxton bassline and the kind of off-kilter melody that Elvis Costello earned his reputation with. But, subsequent listens reveal that main songwriter Mattias Björkas is at his best when he’s at his most unassuming. Over a fairly simple piano line, ‘1914 and Beyond’ draws in the strands between the outbreak of World War One and the 2008 financial crisis. The European Union was “doomed from the start,” he says, having urged, “Greece, don’t pay your debts”. It says more in three-minutes than the many hundreds of well-meaningly earnest think-tank papers published since the run on Northern Rock. Cats on Fire would be capable of knocking out an album of ten catchy guitar pop numbers, but instead they offer up folk ballads and sea shanties; songs about losing your job, smashing the system and travelling across continents. Cats on Fire have made an imaginative, alluring album. The kind you can imagine wanting to listen to for years and years to come.   --Pennyblack Magazine
With their youthfully exuberant sound, it’s hard to believe that Finnish 5-piece Cats On Fire have been making music for more than 10 years. Their third LP All Blackshirts To Me has just been released to critical acclaim. Drawing heavily on The Smiths, especially the Morrissey-esque vocals of frontman Mattias Björkas, there’s an erstwhile sensibility that proves almost impossible to resist.   --Records Abroad
Many argue that Cats On Fire are the best indie-pop band in Finland at the moment. This bold statement may easily be true thanks to well-crafted pop songs with a melancholic and dreamy twist, solid lyrics and distinctive vocals. This month, Cats On Fire release their third album All Blackshirts To Me. It is their best yet. So good, in fact, that the band can afford a terrific outtake like A Few Empty Waves.   --The Guardian
Some folk like to make connections. Me? I’m just happy to be here, lost within a swamp of sunshine and unfinished patios. I know that every time I hear this song crop up on my yet-unmade Song of the Day 11.0 mix tape I’ll be checking for the name, thinking, “Hmm, I really ought to check out more by this band, maybe when I’ve finished on my five-year jag of a 1979 nostalgia trip”. In their own way, they’re Smiths good: a backhanded compliment if ever I wrote one. Makes me think of the Echo & The Bunnymen that only existed in my dreams (i.e. without the bombast and guitars). I cannot escape the shadow of other people’s pasts, no matter how much I may want to. Oh look. Here’s a quote from that man Kulkarni. This had no bearing on my decision to run with this song as Song of the Day, but now I have and now I’ve seen his quote and now I remain bitterly aware that he remains more eloquent than me, him a fucking grandfather and all, I figured I could use it as some sort of a pointer, a signifier. “They make songs you can’t shake and write lyrics that stop your day in its tracks … The last time you felt this way about indie-pop was Pulp. Yeah – that good.” (Neil Kulkarni, The Guardian, May 2012). Yes, it’s one of those Made For Inverted Commas phrases. I’d have preferred lyrics that stop your dog in its tracks, as I fucking hate those four-legged sub-nosed cunts, but … still. As good as Pulp, huh? Here’s what I wrote about that band a while back. No, I still haven’t been sent those three Pulp reissues I wrote the sleeve-notes for. 34 Livistona Place, The Gap, QLD 4061, in case anyone’s reading… This has no relevance to anything, particularly. I’m just filling the gaps in between the gaps in the gaps. I have no idea who Cats On Fire are, beyond this one song, although I am willing to be contradicted. From the U.K., I’m guessing. It’s in the way they hold themselves, and the shirt collars. The melancholy references to late night buses. The restraint. The clipped drum beat. Someone connected with them seems to know who I am, though.   --Collapse Board (Song of the Day)
Singer-songwriter Mattias Bjorkas, the sole constant behind Finnish indie collective Cats On Fire, seems to have an unapologetic fondness for a certain strain of British indie music: tell a fan of Felt, Television Personalities or The Monochrome Set that All Blackshirts To Me was a rare release from the Cherry Red label from approximately 1982, and they'd probably believe you. (Well, except that the lyrics of "1914 and Beyond," which pointedly skewers the Eurozone financial crisis, would be a tip-off.) A singing voice startlingly similar to Orange Juice-era Edwyn Collins, as well as a characteristic fondness for minor-key tunes and acoustic guitars, are all well and good, but what lifts this album beyond mere mimicry is Bjorkas' knack for the kind of melodies that flit through your mind hours after listening, along with a knack for sharply-rendered details in his conversational lyrics.   --Critical Mob
Another fine collective of indie pop purveyors is the Finnish band Cats on Fire. As revivalists of the jangle pop sound of the 1980s, Cats on Fire embrace the Brit pop and C-86 sound even more so in their third album out now, All Blackshirts to Me, than ever before. This is especially evident on the first single, “A Few Empty Waves,” a track oozing with sweet melodies, rhythm and The Smiths-like crooning of vocalist and guitarist Wade Ryff. The band is especially recommended for fans of The Wedding Present, The Go Betweens and Echo and the Bunnymen. With a band name like Cats on Fire, you kind of expect to get a punk or other hardcore sound, but their music is much more warm and fuzzy.   --Indie Rock Café
Big news! The new Cats on Fire album All Blackshirts To Me hit the record stores today. The regular readers all know that I love this band unconditionally. The finest indie pop band in the world in my books and All Blackshirts To Me is once again a wonderful record. The album was released in Finland by Soliti. The great indie pop label Matinée Recordings is responsible for the US release.   --One Chord To Another
Cats On Fire have been around a while, as documented on their 2010 release, Dealing In Antiques, a collection of B-sides and rarities. And though they’ve been through some growing pains and lineup changes along the way, Cats On Fire (frontman and mastermind, Mattias Björkas, in particular) have carved out a nice niche for themselves in the world of indiepop. And here, with All Blackshirts To Me, Björkas and the rekindled Cats On Fire are back with their third proper LP, and the most ambitious to date. I remember describing the band’s 2009 LP, Our Temperance Movement, to someone as “a happy version of the Smiths”. And, while I can now safely say that, in those days, I really had no idea what I was talking about, it’s fair to say now that, even had such a description been 100% accurate at the time, such an easy out is no longer justifiable. Sure, the mark of the Smiths is still there, but not to the degree it is in, say, unapologetically jangly Danish labelmates, Northern Portrait. What we get with All Blackshirts To Me, from the opening singable strains of “Our Old Centre Back” to the hymn-like benediction of “Finnish Lace” is an album which, you might say, occupies more aural space than the band’s previous releases. While “1914 and Beyond”, for instance, is a striking piano-driven history of European affairs, it is followed by a pair of tracks with strong female harmonies—“Well What Do You Know” with its strong singalong chorus, and the jaunty, jangly, and contemptuous “Smash It To Pieces”. And just try to listen to lead single “My Sense of Pride” without a little shuffle creeping into your step. The new addition of occasional synthesizers and some ambient sounds scattered about here and there, it’s clear that Cats On Fire are not afraid to venture into new territory. And, though a little room to grow is often too much to ask of the most narrow-minded fans, Björkas has earned that privilege and put it to good use here. With dancing melodies, some well-bred earworms, and even a dash of Spanish Flu, All Blackshirts To Me is probably the band’s most ambitious project to date. But, thanks to Björkas’s seasoned songwriting and the band’s deft execution, it is also probably their best.   --The Indie Handbook
I'll admit to being bored to tears by Cats on Fire the last few times I've seen them. Gone was the initial rush of chiming guitars and darkly humorous lyrics that'd first endeared me to them nearly five years ago. They seemed to be treading water. It's delightful, then, that the band's third album 'All Blackshirts to Me' (Matinée Recordings) is an album to be treasured. It's not an immediate record at all, apart from tracks such as 'My Sense of Pride' which is pretty much Cats on Fire by numbers, but it's an album that, after a few listens, worms its way into your heart - almost despite itself. Like when a football teams sacks its manager and appoints a new one if often performs much better, then Cats on Fire's new drummer seems to have added a whole new dimension to their music. This is most apparent on the stark 'There Goes the Alarm' and 'After the Fact', both minimalist exercises in self-doubt and anxiety, and both brilliant, brilliant songs. But perhaps the most brilliant is 'The Sea Within You', which sits neatly at the heart of 'All Blackshirts To Me''. It's lyrically obtuse, but that only adds to its general aura. This is something of a theme. Mattias Bjorkas's lyrics have never actually been straightforward, but often they've descended into romantic parody - not this time, though. His high point is '1914 and Beyond', a stunning critique of the financial crises hurting the working classes across Europe. It's quite something. So, yeah. Five years on from seeing this band at the pre-Indietracks gig we organised in 2007, Cats on Fire are back on form. 'All Blackshirts to Me' is their 'Strangeways, Here We Come'. Only now I really hope they get to make another record.   --A Layer of Chips
My adoration for this group continues. They make some of the smoothest pop music around, and even give a nod to football (soccer), so I can’t help but fall completely in love. If they weren’t separated by the ocean, I think I’d follow the group around just to see them play these songs every single night. I dare you to listen to this album once and not fall in love.   --Austin Town Hall (Albums of 2012)
And of course, if we talk about indie-pop, the nordic scene has to show up, this time thanks to an e-mail from the great Matinée Recordings suggesting me to listen this Finnish band and its latest release, “All Blackshirts To Me”. And what a fantastic recommendation it has been! Pure romantic melodies, between the melodrama of The Smiths, the genuine charming of The Ocean Blue or Butcher Boy, with the peculiar additions of synths or unusual instrumentations. And this is their third record, meaning I have much more music to discover from Cats on Fire!   --Bloodbuzzed
Santa Barbara’s Matinée reaches across the ocean to Finland for the third album from Cats on Fire, and though their English-sung sound still emanates from a similar era, these Cats are more influenced by The Smitsh themselves than Morrissey’s immediate children. With tickling Johnny Marr-ish guitar and dramatic hooks—and a wonderful lyrical reference to the hot 1958 Eddie Fontaine rockabilly classic “Nothin’ Shakin’ (But The Leaves On The Trees)” sung by George Harrison on The Beatles July 1963 BBC cover, on their standout ‘My Sense Of Pride’—singer/lyricist Mattias Björkas and his delicate bunch balance considerable brains, romantic disenchantment, and delicate beauty in an outstanding, all-in-one package. Please, please, please let him get what he wants.   --The Big Takeover Magazine
Cats on Fire, a veteran band on the scale of Finnish indie pop, left Johanna Kustannus for producer and record mogul Nick Triani’s label Soliti which was established last year. The band’s fourth album doesn’t open up easily, but will reward a persistent listener. My Sense of Pride surely rolls along like an indie version of Rauli “Badding” Somerjoki or Topi Sorsakoski or and the chorus of A Few Empty Waves will immediately stick in your head. Other than that, the album mainly relies on the soul healing power of medium tempos, introverted minor melodies and Morrissey-like lyrics tinged with dry humor.   --We Are Helsinki
Scandinavia boasts a plethora of quality indie bands, but in my opinion Finland's Cats On Fire are second only to The Raveonettes. The band crafts hook-filled, almost ornate, guitar pop with literate lyrics. The band's 2009 LP (Our Temperance Movement) was among my favorites that year, primarily on the strength of the six best tracks, so I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to listen to their new album, All Blackshirts To Me. After a number of spins this week, I have concluded that the new album, overall, is stronger than 2009 effort. Cats on Fire knows how to make an impression from the opening note. Track 1, "Our Old Centre Back", is a gorgeous track that talks about soccer/football and life, ending with the bittersweet decision of the girl to be with the centre back rather than our narrator. Musically, the song builds from a gentle acoustic guitar to full instrumentation, pauses an 1:48, and builds again. The second track, "My Sense of Pride", provides the album's first single. A song of regret by a somewhat beaten-down narrator reminiscent of the biblical prodigal son, the track delights with an upbeat melody. The remainder of All Blackshirts to Me continues with track after track of well-crafted songs. Most of the them are mid or uptempo, but "After the Fact" and "1914 and Beyond" offer joy at a more contemplative pace. The latter track is particularly interesting, as it provides observations on European politics and economics in a lovely, piano-based wrapper. "It's Clear Your Former Lover" may be the prettiest song I've heard so far this year. Another standout track, "A Few Empty Waves" is a maritime story about the narrator and his companion, A Portuguese water dog -- The music is urbane, varied and sophisticated. The songs display graceful changes of pace and texture. The lyrics are interesting and Mattias' vocals are top quality. And as impressed as I was with this album at first listen, I am even fonder of it after multiple listens. Cats on Fire are Mattias Björkas (acoustic guitar, vocals), Ville Hopponen (electric guitar, backing vocals), Kenneth Höglund (bass guitar), Iiris Viljanen (keyboards, backing vocals), and Yrjö Ylijoki (drums). As with their peers Belle & Sebastian and Wake the President, this band has mastered the ability to craft and perform a song that pulls you in and surrounds you until the final note. You shouldn't deny yourself that joy.   --When You Motor Away
Another collection of great tracks from indie-lovin' Scandinavia has been released courtesy of Finnish group, Cats On Fire. Formed back in 2001 in the west coast town of Vaasa, they have a string of fine recordings, and these three EPs and four LPs have led them to the instantly listenable All Blackshirts To Me. For a band who have flown mostly under the Western radar, they are starting to make waves with this tightly produced album which feels as fresh as a shiny glacier. The 80s influence has been done justice by Cats On Fire, the vocals of Mattias Bjorkas are bang on and the orchestration spot on.   --Indie 30
A Different Light -kappaleen alussa kitarat jyrähtävät ukkosen lailla. Tai ainakin odottamattoman ronskisti. Muutenkin Cats On Firen kolmannella albumilla on ihan uudenlaista musiikillista rohkeutta ja ryhdikkyyttä. On ilo kuunnella levyä, jolla yhtye tuntuu todella löytäneen oman ilmaisunsa vahvuudet. Nykyään Cats On Firen kuvaaminen lupaavavaksi olisi halpamaista. Vaikka taustalla edelleen väijyykin brittiläisen kitarapopin pidättyvämpi ja lukeneempi laita, ei valmista ja monipuolista All Blackshirts To Me -albumia voi kutistaa vaikutekimaraksi. All Blackshirts To Me -levyllä on monenlaisia kappaleita, joista melkein kaikki toimivat. My Sense Of Pride helkkyy klassisena 1980-luvun kitarapoppina, Smash It To Piecesin kertosäe keikkuu kuin juomalaulu ja 1914 And Beyond on Euroopan poliittiseen historiaan pureutuva outo pianosävelmä. Levyn päättävä Finnish Lace -instrumentaali voisi sulkea myös Håkan Hellströmin albumin. Sen merihenkisyys tuntuu tärkeältä, vahvalta viittaukselta rannikkokaupunkeihin, joissa Cats On Firen laulaja ja lauluntekijä Mattias Björkas on asunut. Mattias Björkasin tekstit ovat oma lukunsa. Niitä ei ole aina yritetty istuttaa sävelmään ja ne lähestyvät aiheitaan yllättävistä tulokulmista. Ne vilisevät allegorioita ja viittauksia, joiden oivaltaminen tuottaa arvaamatonta iloa. Kynä on totta tosiaan miekkaa mahtavampi.   --Soundi
Cats on Firen kolmas studiolevy All Blackshirts to Me lupaa paljon. Levyn kaksi ensimmäistä raitaa Our Old Centre Back ja kesäisille tanssilavoillekin sopiva My Sense of Pride ovat viimeisteltyä indie-poppia. Bändin biisinteosta päävastuun kantava Mattias Björkas osoittaa alkumetreistä lähtien, että akustisen popin parissa operoidessa miehen sävellyskynä on edelleen varsin terävä. Kauniita melodioita riittääkin pitkin levyä kuten haikea There Goes the Alarm. Uutukaiselle on saatu hieman aiempaa enemmän sävyjä, mutta aiemmilta levyiltä tuttu akustinen indie-himmailu on edelleen Cats on Firelle leimaa-antavin piirre. Edellisen studiolevyn jälkeiset kokoonpanomuutokset eivät juuri lopputuloksessa kuulu. Vaikka bändin ilmaisu onkin hieman aiempaa monipuolisempaa, on tunnelmointi kuitenkin melko paljon samasta muotista. Parhaimmillaan bändi onkin parin-kolmen biisin annoksina, jolloin monotonisuus ei ala vaivata. All Blackshirts to Me vaatii myös kuuntelukertoja, mutta palkitsee kärsivällisen kuuntelijan lopulta. Musiikin nyanssit alkavat aueta pikku hiljaa, mikä usein tarkoittaa sitä, että levyn pariin jaksaa palata myöhemminkin. Suositellaankin nautittavaksi aamuyön pimeinä tunteina, jolloin ympäröivä maailma ei häiritse ja on tilaisuus antaa musiikille aikaa.   --Sue
All Blackshirts To Me (2012) es el tercer disco de la banda finlandesa Cats On Fire. Pop melódico y nostálgico con un regusto a Belle & Sebastian y derivados. Si bien sus dos primeros discos -sin contar con su recopilación- The Province Complains (2007) y Our Temperance Movement (2009) hacen que te enamores en la primera cita, con este nuevo trabajo cuesta un poco más entrar en sus canciones. Al principio se hace algo pesado, siguen con su estilo característico pero a mi parecer bajan un poquito el listón y dan un poquito menos de lo que venían dando hasta ahora. Si es tu primera vez con ellos mejor que te mires sus dos primeros trabajos antes de abordar éste. De todas formas siguen realizando un pop de calidad que gustará a los amantes del género.   --The Best Indie Music
Pop con mayúsculas es lo que nos regala Cats On Fire en su nuevo álbum “All Blackshirts To Me”, en el que la introspección de su vocalista Mattias Björkas está a la orden del día con temas melancólicos que relatan casi de manera bucólica los ires y venires de una vida plagada de emociones encontradas, para un disco que si bien no resulta tan inmediato como sus predecesores, tiene un cierto “aire” que lo hace totalmente irresistible y que va ganando en pegue con cada una de las escuchas, sobretodo cuando vas notando poco a poco la cantidad de arreglos que tienen las canciones, es que se la han currado de tal manera que no paro de sorprenderme cada vez que descubro algo nuevo, increíble que a estas alturas una banda con la capacidad de emocionar como Cats On Fire no sea reconocida por un público mayoritario, es que cuando tienes temas tan redondos como “A Different Light”, “The Sea Within You” o “My Sense of Pride” solo mereces una venia y los aplausos del público.   --Disco Ninja
Siempre brillante la escena pop nórdica, continua ofreciendo frescura y grandeza al pop independiente a un ritmo trepidante, si en los ochenta y noventa, el referente musical para muchos de nosotros eran las islas británicas, desde hace ya algún tiempo, los países nórdicos le han ido comiendo terreno a los británicos en esto de exportar pop de muchos quilates, siendo Suecia el paradigma nórdico, gracias a una nueva generación de artistas, que amenaza el dominio anglosajón a base de grandeza. Aunque Cats On Fire son fineses, Finlandia tiene un modus operandi similar a sus vecinos suecos, donde lo melódico, la naturaleza romántico-melancólica y la confraternización con las nuevas tecnologías son la base sobre la que cimientan su música. Con dos álbumes de estudio previos, “The Providence Complains” (2007), y un soberbio “Our Temperance Movement” (2009), que incluía la encantadora “Tears In Youyr Cup”, y un no menos interesante álbum recopilatorio de antiguos temas inéditos y versiones, “Dealing In Antiques” (2010), vuelven después de tres años arañando de nuevo el jangle y ese pop en estado de gracia perpetua, siempre acompañada de la peculiar voz de Mattias Björkas, entre sombría y temblorosa, muy influenciada por la voz lírica, casi de barítono de Morrissey. Ahora después de haber agregado dos nuevos miembros al cuarteto, Iiris Viljanen (piano, coros) y Yrjö Ylijoki (batería), nos entregan de nuevo un buen puñado de bonitas canciones pop, aunque mantienen ese tono melodramático y ese romanticismo soñador, ahora sustituyen los ritmos pegadizos, y los ganchos más efectistas, por pop solemne y exquisito, atreviéndose a aligerar sus dogmas acústicos a base de mezclarlos con unos pocos sonidos sintetizados. “All Blackshirts To Me” tiene un enfoque más profundo, por lo que no es tan inmediato como lo fueron sus dos anteriores entregas, sin embargo cuando caes bajo su hechizo, introduciéndote en esas maravillosas tormentas emocionales, te percatas de la grandeza de estos míninos incendiados.   --Es Demasiado Para Mi Cabeza
Avevamo già incrociato il batterista Henry Ojala a inizio anno in quel mirabolante secondo disco dei Burning Hearts, progetto che lo vede impegnato con Jessica Rapo (vocalist de Le Futur Pompiste) ed uscito per Shelflife e Solina Records. Lo ritroviamo in All Blackshirts to Me, quarto disco (se contiamo la raccolta delle b-sides del 2010) dei Cats on Fire di cui Mattias Björkas è mente e artefice, e rilasciato ad inizio aprile per la Matinée Records, ormai già nell'olimpo delle migliori etichette pop di sempre. Rispetto ad Our Temperance Movement c'è meno immediatezza, ma tra My Sense of Pride e A Different Light è un bell'andare; veri maestri di un modo di costruire quel pop sospeso tra nostalgia, modernariato e amore spontaneo e universale per la melodia pura. Ma c'è di più. Sebbene l'indiepop non abbia mai avuto una valenza direttamente politica - a parte forse per quel singolo degli Orchids che si proclamava contro la poll tax: un'imposta pubblica voluta dalla Lady di Ferro (se avete modo di aprire il poster allegato al singolo Underneath The Window, Underneath The Sink troverete la seguente frase: The Orchids say don't pay the Poll Tax, oltre ad altre scritte irriverenti) - colpisce qua la dolcemente accompagnata dal piano 1914 and Beyond, con il suo testo impegnato su una digressione socio-politica europea.   --Frigopop!
Både svenskerne og nordmændene har et godt tag på det danske musikmarked, men hvad med vores nordiske broderfolk finnerne? Leningrad Cowboys, Bomfunk og HiM. Tyndt og ikke ligefrem i den følsomme ende. Cats on Fire spiller en helt anderledes neddæmpet form for følsom poprock, med folk-orienterede melodier og snirklede men også fine tekster, ikke mindst om livet som lidt alternativ i de tusind søers land. Our Old Center Back handler om barndommens minder fra fodboldbanen med blandt andet den fine linje "Art just imitates football". Generelt er der en klædelig og Morrissey'sk skævhed til bandets tekstunivers. A Different Light står også ud for sit guitardrive, der emmer af britisk 90er rock ala Gene og The Smiths-kopier, som passer perfekt til frontmand Mattias Björkas vokal. Flottest er den kokette 1914 and Beyond, der gennemgår de europæiske nationer, elegant og lidt spydigt, som et aktuelt gravskrift over Den Europæiske Union. Meget aparte og overraskende men leveret flot fra en helt uventet kant af Norden.   --Gaffa
Det tar visserligen några genomlyssningar men väl inne i värmen förstår jag vart Cats on Fires tredje fullängdare All Blackshirts to Me är på väg. Och som med alla bättre plattor är en tuff start oftast tecken på att det finns mer att upptäcka. Skivan inleds modigt med en tio sekunder gåtfull ljudbild innan vemodiga Our Old Centre Back, där den missförstådda konstnären jämför sig med skolans sportkung, drar i gång. Det är en melankolisk start på en kraftfull helhet som känns både mörkare och mer sammansatt än bandets tidigare poppigt dansanta image. Men Cats on Fire har nog alltid drivits av vemod. Något som hörs också på andra spåret My Sence of Pride, tillika samlingens mest trallvänliga låt. Trots att vi landar i bästa sortens Badding-dänga, sommarsalig och lätt, är texten precis lika svårmodig som sångaren Mattias Björkas mjuka, tillbakadragna röst som meddelar att han slösat bort ungdomen och vill ha jobbet tillbaka. Hopplösheten märks också i elektroflirten After The Fact, en tät och samspelt låt men med potential att växa vidare. Igen är texterna den vassa kärnan, uppgivna och skarpsynta, och nu även brännande politiska. I A Different Light resonerar man kring fascistiska dörrvakter medan domedagen redan kommit och gått i 1914 and Beyond där Grekland uppmanas att inte betala sina skulder och Island att täcka oss allihop med aska. Jag tänker att bandet går mot samma sorts förtvivlad uppriktighet som 1970-talets politiska sånggrupper. Nya medlemmen Iiris Viljanens röst förstärker känslan, speciellt på spår som Well Well What Do You Know och Smash It To Pieces där hon och Björkas bildar en eftertänksam kör, marscherande i total samstämmighet. Överlag känns den oförskräckta leken med ljud hela vägen genom skivan kaxig. Orgelavskedet på slutet, ett postludium till den finska spetshunden, är bland det mest vemodigt fina jag hört på länge. Ett stycke man vinner på att lyssna till helt ensam.   --HBL
Esce, molto atteso, il nuovo (terzo) album dei finlandesi Cats On Fire. Nessuna sorpresa nelle canzoni di Mattias Björkas e compagni: i quattro continuano la loro ricerca stilistica nel nome di un indie-pop che si nutre di Smiths e soprattu...tto dei loro epigoni di fine '80 - inizio '90 (dagli Orange Juice ai Felt, dai Field Mice ai McCarthy) e da alcuni anni è alla testa di una folta schiera di band (molte scandinave) che portano avanti questa via melodica, raffinata e retrospettiva all'indie (Northern Portrait, Electric Pop Group etc.). Il livello di scrittura è come sempre molto alto e i pezzi dei COF - anima spesso acustica, umore malinconico e spigliato jingle jangle d'ordinanza - tendono questa volta ad oltrepassare i 3 minuti canonici, puntando sia all'atmosfera che all'immediatezza. In USA ovviamente distribuisce la ineccepibile Matinèe Records. Da noi su iTunes.   --Just Another Pop Song
Alkaakohan turkulaista Cats on Fire -bändiä ja laulajaansa Mattias Björkasia kolmannen levynsä kohdalla jo ärsyttää loputtomiin jankutetut The Smiths-, ja Morrissey-vertaukset? Uutukaisella bändi kuulostaa ristiriitaisesti yhtä aikaa vain ja ainoastaan itseltään, mutta silti melkein minkä tahansa biisin voi kuulla päässään Morriseyn laulamana. Hämmentävää, mutta annetaan asian olla, ennen kuin Björkasilta katkeaa suoni päästä. Cats on Fire ei rokkaa eikä rähise, mutta ei myöskään tuijottele pelkästään kenkiinsä. Omintakeinen indie-soundi vaikuttaa ensikuulemalta täysin yhdentekevältä rallattelulta, joka ei etene mihinkään. Aluksi taustamusiikilta tiskaamiselle kuulostanut äänimaisema kätkee kuitenkin sisäänsä hitaasti avautuvia hienoja pop-sävellyksiä. Levyä piristävät sieltä täältä löytyvät Agents-tyyliset rautalankasoundit. Englannin kielisiin sanoituksiin on nähty harvinaisen paljon vaivaa, vaikka välillä ne kompastuvatkin omaan nokkeluuteensa.   --KSML
Useat suosikkibändini ovat lopettaneet jo vuosia ennen kuin niihin tutustuin. Monet edelleen kasassa olevat suosikkini puolestaan ovat julkaisseet parhaat levynsä kohta 20 vuotta sitten. Tästä syystä yhtyeillä, joiden kehitystä olen seurannut alkuvaiheista lähtien, on erityinen asema sydämessäni. Yksi tällainen bändi on Cats on Fire, joka on ollut yksi suosikeistani Draw in the Reins -ep:stä (2006) lähtien. The Province Complains ja Our Temperance Movement -levyihin verrattuna All Blackshirts to Me avautuu hitaasti. Levy ei ole yhtä hitikäs kuin aiemmat albumit, mutta se tuntuu kasvavan kuunteluiden myötä. Uskon ja toivon, että All Blackshirts to Me tuottaa iloa vielä pitkään, sillä se ei ole vajaassa viikossa unohdettavaa ”blogi-indietä”, vaan taidolla, näkemyksellä ja lämmöllä tehtyä popmusiikkia, jollaisella on tapana kestää vuodesta toiseen. Vaikka uusin levy hieman poikkeaakin aiemmista, ovat Cats on Firen vahvuudet pysyneet samoina: erinomaiset melodiat, poikkeuksellisen oivaltavat lyriikat ja laulaja Mattias Björkasin vaikuttava lauluääni ovat yhdistelmä, jollainen on vain harvoilla bändeillä. Parissa lukemassani levyarvostelussa on nostettu esiin 1914 and Beyond sekä Smash It to Pieces -kappaleiden poliittiset tekstit. Vähemmälle huomiolle on jäänyt se, että useassa biisissä käsitellään taitavasti katumusta, kateellisuutta ja häpeää. Juuri nämä biisit (esimerkiksi My Sense of Pride, Well Well What Do You Know, It’s Clear Your Former Lover) ovat lyriikoiltaan albumin parhaimmistoa. All Blackshirts to Me -levyllä 80-lukulaisesti helkkyvä kitarapop on saanut mausteeksi Agentsien rautalankaa ja Leevi & the Leavingsin melankoliaa aiempia Cats on Fire -levyjä enemmän. Tämä yhdistelmä Britanniaa ja Suomea erottaa Cats on Firen maailman tuhansista muista indiepoppareista ja kasvattanee bändin mainetta entisestään.   --Levy Päivässä
Un troisième album déjà encensé par la critique des pays nordiques pour ce quintet méconnu par chez nous. L’inconstance de leurs deux premiers album à certainement joué ungrand rôle dans leur visibilité médiatique, mais il ne fait aucun doute que ce groupe a largement le potentiel pour se faire une place plus importante et plus au sud. Car avec la sortie ALL BLACKSHIRTS TO ME le manque de substance et de maturités de leurs morceaux que nous pouvions leur reprocher par le passé semble maintenant obsolète et dénuée de sens. Ils semblent cette fois être capable de captiver notre attention un album durant. Même si au premier abord on serait susceptible de facilement laisser tomber, il vaut la peine de persévérer, car s’il est vrai qu’il ne recèle rien de révolutionnaire musicalement, on y trouve des morceaux certes difficiles à apprivoiser mais suffisamment mélodiques, solides et accrocheurs. Il ne faut donc pas s’arrêter directement au premier ressenti musical pour y trouver le critère permettant d'esquiver cet album. Après plusieurs écoutes on fait le constat qu’il recèle trop d'excellents morceaux pour cela. Et pour comprendre que ce groupe mérite un plus grand intérêt c’est plutôt du côté des textes qu’il faut setourner. Car comme par le passé, Cats On Fire doit beaucoup à la plume avertie de Mattias Björkas qui nous propose des textes engagés aux tournures parfois drôle, parfois amer et surtout toujours efficaces. L'exemple le plus flagrant se trouve sur "1914 and Beyond", formidable chronique minimale faisant le parallèle entre l’Europe de la première guerre et celle d’aujourd’hui.   --Lords of Rock
Los finlandeses Cats On Fire lanzan su tercer disco de estudio bajo el título de All Blackshirts To Me (2012), tras casi tres años sin publicar material nuevo y el paréntesis discográfico que supuso la edición del recopilatorio de versiones, rarezas y otras curiosidades titulado Dealing In Antiques (2010). Amplio periodo aprovechado por los escandinavos para fraguar un evidente y pronunciado saneamiento de su sonido, si bien la propuesta continúa remitiendo inmediatamente a formaciones clásicas como The Smiths, The Housemartins o Prefab Sprout, a la vez que se distancia ligeramente del explícito encanto de Belle & Sebastian. La banda encabezada por Mattias Bjorkas –de evidente obsesión por la interpretación vocal de Morrissey- reaparece presentando dosis inéditas de fina elegancia y una delicadeza apoyada con convicción sobre la madurez necesaria para aportar distinción a todas las composiciones. Desde “Our Old Centre Back” -soberbio corte que inaugura el álbum- hasta “Smash It To Pieces”, pasando por el preciosista dueto “Well Well What Do You Know”, “My Sense Of Pride”, “There Goes The Alarm” o la resuelta “A Few Empty Waves”, el cuarteto se aleja definitivamente de su faceta más hedonista y despreocupada luciendo una recién estrenada apariencia de seriedad, melancolía y trabajosa elaboración, en una transición descrita con pulso firme y buen gusto. La pieza instrumental de aire clásico “Finnish Lace” que cierra el álbum confirma las sensaciones y el acierto del trabajo más sólido, perpetuo e incuestionable facurado hasta la fecha por Cats On Fire.   --Muzikalia
För fem år sedan släppte Cats On Fire sin debut-fullängdare. En fantastisk skiva på så många sätt. En ganska typisk janglepop-skiva med nyanser av amerikanska anti-folk-gitarrer och väldigt ofta en distinkt tvåtakt sattes samman med stämningsfulla melodier levererade med en försiktigt distad gitarr. På detta en len stämma med barytonska drag. Mycket lite har förändrats sedan dess. De folkliga gitarrerna framträder oftare och tydligare men kompletteras av både piano och mandolin. Inte nog med det, sjunde spåret ”1914 And Beyond” består bara av piano och en mysigt sakral stämsång. Andra spår som noterbart viker av från deras typiska sound är ”Smash it to pieces”, en relik hämtad från en open mic-night på en småtrendig pub i Manchester c:a 1985 och ”Well Well, What Do You Know” som istället andas baleariska toner i sann Sincerely Yours-anda. Hela skivan överlag känns som ett avståndstagande från den gitarrdominanta janglepoppen som präglade deras tidigare alster. Sett från det perspektivet är ”All Blackshirts To Me” en stor besvikelse, men ser man den som ett nytt kapitel i den finska pophistorien är det istället en fruktansvärt bra skiva där de mer traditionella spåren faktiskt är bättre än många av deras äldre alster i samma stil.
Das dritte Album der Band aus Turku in Finnland verneigt sich wieder einmal vor den großen Melancholikern der britischen Popmusik - allen voran seien da natürlich die Smiths genannt, die als Referenz bei den brennenden Katzen glasklar rauszuhören sind. Bandleader Mattias Björkas hat hier durchaus schöne Songs versammelt - "My Sense Of Pride" zum Beispiel, in dem er auch die Selbstironie eines Morrisseys zeigt. Björkas' pathetisches Timbre sorgt dann auch dafür, dass das Album trotz des ein oder anderen Hängers überzeugt, selbst wenn man sich ein paar Tempovariationen mehr, wie die Klavierballade "1914 And Beyond", gewünscht hätte. Props auch für den schönen Albentitel: "All Blackshirts To Me" - das gehört auf Plattencover und schwarze T-Shirts...   --Rolling Stone Germany
Das laue Uni-Leben lässt viel Zeit für musikalische Beschäftigung. Wie diesem Blog anzumerken ist. Dennoch hätte der Beginn ihres Studiums für die Mitglieder von Cats On Fire beinahe das Ende ihrer Band bedeutet. Das war anno 2003, man hegte erst kurz aber entschlossen Indie-Pop Ambitionen, doch suchte noch nach Überzeugung. Ein paar Wechsel in der Besetzung brachten schließlich das benötigte Know-How und ließen die Finnen mit einer vielversprechenden EP in Skandinavien durchstarten. Das war anno 2006, prompt folgten zwei Studioalben. Eine kurze Bio bisher, die jedoch zeigt, dass man es ernst meint. Wir hören rein in den Drittling, „All Blackshirts To Me“. War ihr Gitarren-Pop bisher einfach angenehm anzuhören, hat er nun selbstbewusst an Substanz gewonnen. Soviel sich Cats On Fire in Zurückhaltung übten, über so viel Eleganz verfügen ihren Kompositionen. Die vier Herren und die Dame von der Südwestküste Finnlands erschaffen sich auf „All Blackshirts To Me“ ihre Identität durch ein melancholisches Grundgefühl. Dessen positive Färbung rückt es zugleich wieder in den Hintergrund. Wäre nicht dies zwischenzeitliche Aufflackern. Intellektuell angehaucht verleiht Sänger Mattias Björkas den Songs ihr greifbares Äußeres. Sein Gesang trägt den Geist der unvergessenen Smiths, ohne zu exaltiert zu wirken, weint ein wenig und schöpft zugleich wieder neuen Mut. Es sind ganz klar diese warmherzigen Züge, die verzaubern. Wie im wirkungsvollen Opener „Our Old Centre Back“. Danach ist man angekommen, in der kleinen, feinen, von den 80er Jahren inspirierten Welt, die Cats On Fire so gekonnt unaufdringlich erklingen lassen. Und so cool zugleich, hört man das anziehende „My Sense Of Pride“, die Entspannung in „There Goes The Alarm“ oder das feinfühlige „The Sea Within You“. Flammende Begeisterung steckt im sperrigeren mit kraftvollen Gitarren ausgestatten „A Different Light“, das das Album auf laute Art bereichert, wie es der eingängige Piano-Song „1914 And Beyond“ spielend auf die ruhige Weise schafft. Wer mag, taucht mit ein in diesen leichtfüßigen Tagtraum. Impulse gibt’s viele, so das charismatische „It’s Clear Your Former Lover“ und das wehmütige Pendant „A Few Empty Waves“. Während Björkas Gesang immer wieder durch unterschwellige Backings unterstützt wird, erfahren diese zweimal (in „Well Well What Do You Know“ und „Smash It To Pieces“) eine offensivere, gelungene Färbung in der Stimme von Pianistin Iiris Viljanen. Nicht zuletzt durch das instrumentale Albennachspiel ist es eine richtig runde Sache. Wessen Neugierde und Sehnsüchte im 80er inspirierten Gitarren-Pop mit rockiger Attitüde liegen, findet in „All Blackshirts To Me“ der finnischen Cats On Fire eine gelungene Befriedigung. Erhofft unaufdringlich, gekonnt kurzweilig.   --Beatblogger
Pop de principio a fin, con un toque melancólico y unas letras sólidas. Desde que sacaran su primer EP Solid Work en 2003, Cats on Fire no han parado. Al EP le siguieron dos más, después dos discos y luego uno de rarezas y temas antiguos en el que se incluía una versión de la canción Your Woman (1997) de White Town. A finales de marzo salía a la venta el último trabajo de los finlandeses: All Blackshirts To Me, un trabajo más maduro y logrado en el que hay más sitio para la experimentación. Se les ha comparado muchas veces con The Wave Pictures. Sin embargo, Cats on Fire tienen su propio sonido, la verdad es que lo han tenido desde que empezaron. Lo que hace especiales a estos chicos es, entre otras cosas, sus letras, las cuales varían de una canción a otra, a veces serias y profundas, a veces sarcásticas y otras divertidas. La crítica política y social está presente en todos sus discos y en este último no iba a ser menos, 1914 and Beyond es el más claro ejemplo de ello (“Greece don´t pay your debts”), una dura crítica a la política europea. Pocos grupos consiguen emocionarte en una canción, hacerte bailar en la siguiente o sumergirte en el debate de la crisis económica en Europa dos temas después. Desde sentimientos personales, confesiones verdaderamente emotivas, hasta canciones de protesta. Pero Cats on Fire utilizan las guitarras, a veces el piano y en ocasiones los coros de la única chica del grupo Iiris Viljanen, para camuflar esas protestas con dulces melodías. Our Old Centre Back abre este nuevo trabajo, seguida de My Sense of Pride, la cual lleva su sello, se reconocen las guitarras y la particular voz de Mattias Björkas, que recuerda a la de Morrissey (“Nothing is shaking and I wanna have my job back, this time my sense of pride won’t stand in the way I’ve lost that long ago”). A Different Light es el mejor ejemplo de esa experimentación que decíamos al principio, There Goes the Alarm es triste y melancólica pero cautivadora. After the Fact y The Sea Within You son, junto a 1914 And Beyond, sin duda, las mejores del disco. A Few Empty Waves comienza tan solo con una guitarra y la voz de Björkas pero pronto se une el resto del grupo y el resultado es inmejorable. All Blackshirts To Me gana con cada escucha. Desaparecen los ritmos pegadizos para dar paso a un sonido más trabajado, con toques sutiles de distorsión, canciones más profundas y maduras que al mismo tiempo conservan ese toque romántico y melancólico que caracteriza a Cats on Fire.   --Crazy Minds
Nick Trianin mukana Johannalta Solitille vaihtanut suomalaisen "brittipopin" (eli tässä tapauksessa brittiläishenkisen kitarapopin) ykkösnimi Cats On Fire on uudella levyllään hyvässä iskussa. Kuulaasti rautalanka-kaiutettu, folkisti kepeä ja ilmava soundi, Mattias Björkasin heleä laulu, tyylikäs biisikynä ja sanallinen näppäryys ovat voimissaan ja koukkuja piisaa. Laulussa ja akustisessa kitarassa vaikuttavan Björkasin ohella Ville Hopposen sähköisen kitaran ja moninaisten muiden instumenttien, Kenneth Höglundin keveän basson, Iiris Viljasen koskettimien ja taustalaulujen sekä Yrjö Ylijoen vispilätahdin muodostama soundillinen kokonaisuus on monipuolisempi ja värikkäämpi kuin koskaan, mikä rikastaa myös Björkasin laulua. Eksoottisempia mausteita lisäillään mm. Hopposen soittamalla kalimballa ja Einar Ekströmin vierailevalla vibrafonilla.n Aloitus on mainio. Kepeästi melankolinen ja pehmeästi rullaava Our Old Centre Back muistuttaa heti miksi pidän Cats On Firesta niin paljon. Pumpulisesti hymyileviä pieniä biisikaunokaisia, joissa herkkyys kohtaa pienet mutta tarttuvat melodiakaaret ja näppäily on lämmin ja värikäs intiimiydestään huolimatta. Tuntuu että huolimatta rikkaasta instrumenttien käytöstä kaikuineen kaikkineen jokainen sipaisu on tarkkaan harkittu ja juuri oikealla paikallaan. Silti vielä enemmän lämmittää hieman eteerinen, ikään kuin jalustalla seisova My Sense Of Pride - liekö sitten tuo ajattoman tuntuinen rautalankasoundi joka iskee suomalaiseen sydänalaan? Cats On Fire onnistuu luontevasti välttämään turhan jylhäksi tai etäiseksi muuttumisen sudenkuopan, vaikka tahallaan etäistävätkin sieluaan tähtitaivaalle. Reippaasti kaartava ja irtonaisesti laukkaava A Different Light ja uneliaammin hipsutteleva There Goes The Alarm eivät laske rimaa vaikka jäävätkin edellisten viehätyksestä. Rytmikkyydessään veikeä After The Fact tummailee irtonaisesti, kepeä The Sea Within You valaisee majakallaan tyvenessä, taustalaulut viehättävät erityisesti. Pikkunäppärä eskapismi vaihtuu lauluntekijän mukana hiukan eksaktimpaan historialliseen yhteiskuntatarkasteluun pianovetoisella 1914 And Beyondilla, joka todistaa Viljasenkin omaavan Björkasin äänelle sopivan biisikynän. Levyn tällä hetkellä nautinnollisimpia hetkiä tarjoilee huomaamattomasti vaaniskeleva Well Well What Do You Know, jonka kuorokertsi lämmittää mieltä. Smash It To Pieces ei nimestään huolimatta ole sävellyksenä juurikaan väkivaltainen tai riehakas, vaan pikemminkin rullaa hymy huulilla nousuhumalaisessa käsikynkässä ja viheltelee huolettomana. Vaikka melankolia on vahvasti ilmassa ja sanoissa pistetään vasaroilla matalaksi, esitystapa on harmiton. Tumma ja ilmava sopivat hyvin kuvaamaan It´s Clear Your Former Loveria, unohtamatta vaikeasti yhteen miellettäviä kepeää ja jylhää. Yhdistelmä toimii. Riisutusti näppäilevä A Few Empty Waves kasvaa pienillä hipaisuilla hienosti kaartavaan kertoon, jossa yhtyeen melodinen koukku ja harmonisuus kohtaavat huipputasolla. Päätösraita Finnish Lace sukeltaa kirkkouruilla melankoliaan melodisesti mutta hieman irrallaan muusta levystä. Hiukan turha päätös muuten mallikelpoiselle levylle.   --Desibeli
Llevaba unos días de retraso con las nuevas incorporaciones musicales de este año, pero cual ha sido mi grata sorpresa al descubrir entre mi lista de pendientes a los nórdicos Cats On Fire. He de admitir que en la primera oída me daba la impresión que sería un disco que se quedaría sin reseñar en mi lista de 2012, pero cuando éste va avanzando descubres un disco muy completo, redondo y maduro. Dejando a un lado el parecido que posee la voz de Mattias Björkas con la de Morrissey, tenemos que destacar la incorporación de dos integrantes más al conjunto, uno al piano y otro a la batería, lo que le da un salto de calidad al sonido pop del grupo. En definitiva, Cats On Fire han dado un puñetazo sobre la mesa para decir que aquí siguen después de 3 años y mantenerse en la cúspide del pop. No dejes de oír: A Different Light, There Goes The Alarm, 1914 And Beyond y Well Well What Do You Know.   --Hype You
Die vier schnöseligen Nordboynerds schreiben ihren bescheidenen, verschmitzten, ja, leicht verschämten Pop mit drei Ausrufezeichen. Zwischen Hit und Gefälligkeit und The Smiths. Die Band aus Vaasa in der lautmalerisch hübschen finnischen Provinz Österbotten befindet sich bereits im elften Jahr ihres Bestehens. Ihr Pop besitzt allerdings etwas derart Zeitloses, dass sich niemand Sorgen machen muss, diese Karriere in Schneckenpost-Tempo könne je von Zeit und Trends eingeholt werden. Die vier schnöseligen Nordboynerds schreiben ihren bescheidenen, verschmitzten, ja, leicht verschämten Pop mit drei Ausrufezeichen. Und erinnern so nicht von ungefähr an das Genie Morrisseys, dem es auch immer gelang, aus smarten Miniaturen wahre Riesen zu machen. Zwischen Hit und Gefälligkeit rattert auch die Jukebox aus Finnland durch stimmungsvolle Nacht.
Con este, su tercer álbum, los Cats on Fire no se salen de la línea definida que manejan siempre arreglos bellos de guitarra, esos geniales arponazos de jangly pop que tanto gustan, un bajo acompañador y una batería que no sobresale pero no decepciona en fin, nada nuevo, por ahí dos o tres detalles de distorsión y efectos de guitarra, piano. La banda logra con All Blackshirts To Me mantener la enorme calidad que tienen y han logrado mantener desde aquel 2003 que sacaron su primer EP.   --London Calling
Ihr erstaunlichstes Album hat die Band Cats On Fire im Jahr 2010 veröffentlicht. Eine Raritätensammlung, man könnte auch sagen: ein Dokument genialischer Verschwendung. Wie konnte es sein, dass einem eine so junge, so wenige berühmte Band, einen solch vollendeten Twee-Pop-Reigen wie einen Wühltisch vorsetzt? Mit einer Attitüde wie: Schaut her, das haben wir über die Jahre übrigens auch noch aufgenommen. 'Dealing in Antiques' hieß die magisch-beiläufige Platte, was natürlich hübsch mit dem Umstand kokettierte, dass die Finnen hauptsächlich für ihre Anklänge an die großen Indie-Acts der 80-er geliebt werden. Auch im Jahr 2012 sind Cats On Fire die einzigen wirklich verlässlichen Schutzpatrone nostalgischer Pop-Feingeister. Wenngleich 'All Blackshirts To Me' das Wohlfühlbedürfnis anoraktragender Sensibilisten streckenweise auch herausfordert. 'The sea had brought me some fame / Now I had to readjust my aim', singt Frontmann und Songschreiber Mattias Björkas nun lyrisch verblümt und die Zeilen dehnend, wie es sonst nur Morrissey tut. Könnte heißen: Auf der Basis ihrer scheuen Vollendung wurde den Finnen die Twee-Pop-Jacke auf dem nunmehr dritten Studioalbum ein bisschen zu eng. Deshalb gibt es jetzt manches Folk-Geplänkel zu hören und weiblichen Hintergrundgesang. Es gibt geflötete Klassenkampfromantik ('Smash It To Pieces') und sogar ein vom Piano umhülltes Weltuntergangsszenario ('1914 And Beyond') mit der kessen Quintessenz: 'Greece, don't pay your debts.' Ist ja allerhand. Erfreulicherweise kennt aber auch 'All Blackshirts To Me' die vollendete Leichtigkeit perlender Jangle-Gitarren ('My Sense Of Pride'). Und selbstverständlich ist es ein sportliches Ziel, diese zarte Brillanz ohne den Standardverweis auf Felt, die June Brides, Aztec Camera und die schnell mal herbeizitierten Smiths zu loben. Stadien füllt man mit derlei Ruhm allerdings ohnehin nicht. Cats On Fire bleiben bis auf Weiteres die größte kleine Band der Welt.   --Monsters and Critics
Nel 2007 i Cats On Fire sceglievano di intitolare il loro esordio "The Province Complains", adombrando un'autoironica insoddisfazione per lo status "provinciale" della natia Finlandia. Nei cinque anni successivi la band di Mattias Björkas ha infilato un altro album osannato dalla critica e una raccolta di singoli e inediti e, nel frattempo, si è accasata presso la californiana Matinée Recordings che da San Francisco propala il verbo dell'indie-pop in tutto l'orbe terracqueo. Insomma, la provincia per i Cats On Fire non è che un lontano punto di partenza, anche se non troverete una recensione in rete o sui magazine internazionali che non si stupisca ancora per la provenienza del gruppo dal più periferico (musicalmente) dei paesi scandinavi. Ecco allora che "All Blackshirts To Me", opera terza dei ragazzi di Vasa, arriva a puntellare una celebrità che per i Cats On Fire è già ampiamente consolidata nella scena indie, tanto da farne uno dei pochi gruppi scandinavi che riesce a distribuire la propria musica ovunque (benché la Gran Bretagna, patria dell'indie-pop, li stia scoprendo solo adesso con colpevole ritardo).Nessuna eclatante sorpresa nelle dodici canzoni del nuovo album, ma la piena conferma di uno stile ormai riconoscibile anche solo dai primi jingle jangle della chitarra, prima ancora che l'inconfondibile e fascinosa voce alla Morrissey di Björkas occupi la scena. Almeno due dozzine di band britanniche degli anni 80 e 90 sono state scomodate per definire il suono dei Cats On Fire: dall'ovvio e un po' trito paragone con gli Smiths a quello con i più misconosciuti gruppi del movimento C86, dai Pulp e I Belle and Sebastian fino al revival della Sarah Records. Al di là dell'accuratezza dei paragoni, quel che è certo è che Mattias e soci hanno fatto tesoro di una passione smodata per questo modo di intendere il pop, e le loro canzoni sono la cartina di tornasole della loro raffinata ed intelligentissima attitudine retrospettiva. Attitudine, del resto, condivisa da altre egregie band scandinave, dai danesi Northern Portrait agli svedesi Electric Pop Group, dai quali comunque i Cats On Fire si distinguono nell'evitare riletture troppo smaccate dell'altrui stile. La vera forza della band finlandese risiede innanzitutto in una superiore capacità di scrittura, che viene esercitata con rara nonchalance coniugando leggerezza e densità in ogni aspetto delle canzoni - dalla complessa essenzialità degli arrangiamenti all'immediatezza mai scontata delle linee melodiche. Per chi avesse già dimestichezza con i suoni dei finlandesi, nonostante non ci si trovi in presenza di alcuna drastica virata, "All Blackshirts To Me" può risultare al primo ascolto alquanto spiazzante. L'indie-pop elettrico degli esordi è stavolta affiancato da ballate pop-folk, da canzoni quasi "marinaresche" e, addirittura, da elegiaci brani dove è l'organo a farla da pardone. Tutto il lavoro, in effetti, ha un andamento più compassato e "maturo" rispetto alla precedente produzione della band: abbandonato in parte l'impeto chitarristico delle origini, i giovani scandinavi cercano nell'atmosfera e nella melodia più eclettica la forza espressiva delle loro canzoni, e forse non è un caso che le tastiere siano in bella evidenza in molti brani, come nell'iniziale "Our Old Centre Back" o nelle successive "A Different Light" e "There Goes The Alarm". La maggior varietà e raffinatezza stilistica si riscontra anche in canzoni quali "1914 And Beyond", dove è il pianoforte a menare le danze, o nel riuscitissimo innesto della voce femminile a duettare con Björkas in "Well What Do You Know" e "Smash It To Pieces", entrambi da annoverare tra le cose migliori dell'album. Tale sottile variazione nello stile è portata avanti lungo tutto lo svolgimento dell'album, con l'eccezione di un paio di brani (non a caso quelli che ne hanno anticipato l'uscita) quali "My Sense Of Pride" e "A Few Empty Waves" che più evidentemente si richiamano all'ormai "classico" suono dei Cats On Fire fatto di ritmi sincopati e chitarre distese. Una scelta, questa, che rende "All Blackshirts To Me" un lavoro meno immediato dei suoi predecessori ma che al contempo ne è il principale pregio: pur rimanendo un album smaccatamente pop e leggero, tuttavia, richiede maggior attenzione e tempo prima di riuscire, nonostante (e, forse, grazie a) l'indolenza che lo caratterizza, a penetrare in profondità sotto pelle e lì rimanere a lungo. A ciò si aggiunga che Mattias Björkas, stavolta ancor più che in precedenza, maneggia la materia lirica con lo spleen sornione e apparentemente distaccato che da sempre lo contraddistingue, passando con estrema naturalezza dalle metafore calcistiche della delicata "Our Old Centre Back" al nonsense assoluto della sontuosa "The Sea Within You" (musicalmente uno dei vertici dell'album), fino alla bizzarra e in qualche modo "incendiaria" disamina storico-politica per voce e piano di "1914 And Beyond". E questo è un aspetto da non sottovalutare: non capita spesso, infatti, di ascoltare una canzonetta nella quale ci si interroghi sulle ragioni dell'attuale crisi che ha colpito la classe lavoratrice europea, trovandole nella disamina (tutt'altro che banale) della storia politica europea dell'inizio del secolo scorso, né tantomeno è frequente che ci si trovi a cantare un ritornello come questo: "Greece Don't Pay Your Debts/ Don't Bother With The Debts/ Iceland/ Go on and cover us in ashes". Qualcuno ha azzardato che "All Blackshirts To Me" possa essere considerato per i Cats On Fire ciò che "Strangeways, Here We Come" fu per gli Smiths e, pur facendo le debite proporzioni, il paragone ha più di una ragion d'essere. Speriamo solo che, almeno in questo caso, non costituisca il loro canto del cigno: la band finlandese sembra avere ancora molto da dire e pare abbia definitivamente trovato la giusta voce per dirlo.   --Ondarock
A veces se da el caso de que bandas completamente sólidas, con personalidad, genio y buenas canciones no acaban de llegar al gran público, los motivos pueden ser diversos pero no deja de ser curioso, aunque por otro lado se perpetúe la autenticidad en una banda al margen de grandes estudios o producciones. Este es el caso de los excelentes Cats On Fire. En activo desde 2007, los finlandeses siempre nos han ofrecido temas redondos y discos bien acabados, desde que los descubrimos con aquel “The Province Complains” (Marsh Marigold, 2007). Ahora regresan con el que es su tercer disco de estudio, “All Blackshirts To Me”, un disco que da una vuelta de tuerca más a su música, alejándose un poco de las melodías más inmediatas para embarcarse en algo más íntimo y subjetivo, sobretodo en cuanto a las letras se refiere, e incluso transportándolo a la manera de cantar de Mattias Björkas. A través de los doce cortes que componen el álbum, Mattias desnuda su alma como lo hiciera Morrisey en sus mejores momentos, iniciando el disco con el tema “Our Old Centre Back” en el que compara la vida con un partido de fútbol, imagen mundana que traslada a otras piezas como “1914 and Beyond”, dura crítica a la política Europea actual a través de un piano o “A Few Empty Waves” donde nos relata la vida en el mar de un modo casi bucólico. Estos momentos los entremezclan con otros más personales y resguardados con títulos como “My Sense of Pride” que regresa un poco a los orígenes de Cats On Fire pero con un tono más triste, o “It’s Clear Your Former Lover”, un bello canto al amor. Las pinceladas más rítmicas las ofrecen canciones como ”There Goes the Alarm” o “After the Fact”. Al final nos encontramos ante un compedio de beats armónicos ofrecidos por una enérgica batería, sintetizadores, guitarras y otros elementos. Una imagen vanguardista y un sonido propio y sotisficado. Quizás nos encontremos ante el mejor disco de una banda que aún tiene mucho que ofrecer y decir, y que con el tiempo sea una de las más firmes de su país y de gran parte del indie-pop internacional.   --Popchild
Nema tome dva tjedna kako sam dobio mail ili, ako hoćemo biti baš analno precizni, poruku na od prijatelja Nijemca koji već godinama živi u Hrvatskoj. Poslao mi je link za download ovog albuma koji naravno i nažalost s vama ne mogu podijeliti, a uz link su pisale samo dvije riječi: 'Odlično record!' Prijateljima treba vjerovati pa sam album odmah skinuo i krenuo slušati pitajući se cijelo vrijeme zašto većina bendova koje rado slušam imaju poprilično retardirana imena. Sudeći po bedastom imenu i opisu koji sam, razumije se, odmah potražio na allmusicu, sve je slutilo na to da je moj drug imao pravo i da sam pronašao nove twee heroje koji će se s tolikim ostalima boriti za djeliće moje slušateljske pozornosti, baš kao da je ona nešto posebno. Priču spominjem samo zato što me uvijek iznenadi kako je nemoguće pratiti sve pa čak i kada neki bend izvire iz izvora na kojem se napajate često i rado makar ne i isključivo na njemu, opet ga je moguće previdjeti i susresti ga potpuno slučajno, eto da ne bi mog omiljenog Germana, sva je prilika da bih ostao uskraćen za milozvučno pop zvukovlje koje isporučuju zapaljene mačkice, a to bi bila velika šteta. Ne baš nepopravljiva, ali velika svakako. Riječ je o finskom indie pop sastavu kojima je ovo već treći album, a momcima su Smithsi sasvim očito najveći uzori, a čuje se tu i malo Felta i krhotine harmonija Belle & Sebastian, predvidljivo. Ono što je dobro, ono što je važno jest činjenica da Cats on Fire zaista niti u jednom trenu ne zvuče kao da kopiraju, djeluju svježe i originalno. Zbilja, poseban je to uspjeh, ne zvučati kao da kopiraš svoje uzore bez obzira na to koliko jasno bilo da su ti oni uzori, zvučati kao da im možeš stati uz bok, ravnopravno pa pokazati da se na tom terenu krećeš jednako suvereno i sigurno kao i oni. Čitav album zapravo zvuči kao da je neka škvadra pronašla izgubljene snimke Smithsa i snimila ih kao svoje, danas, 2012. Ne znam za vas, ali ja to smatram uspjehom. S tim da, naglašavam, slično je, jako je slično, ali nije ovo puko epigonstvo, ima tu puno više od toga. Prva pjesma "Our Old Centre Back" malo (ili, bolje reći, dosta) posuđuje od “Moonlight Shadow” i to čini na dosta zgodan i dirljiv način, iduća "My Sense of Pride" bi postala ultimativnom indie himnom da je nastala kojih trideset godina ranije, a tekstualni pasaži tipa 'It takes courage to say I've been mistaken/I've been an idiot for years/Now I speak in a lower voice to blend in' razgalit će svakoga tko se i dalje osjeća neprilagođeno i traži utjehu u pop pjesmama. Pravo je iznenađenje "1914 and Beyond" u kojoj se do tada tipičan indie pop bendić prometnuo u političke analitičare, pa komentiraju aktualnu situaciju i povlače paralele s poviješću, sugeriraju Grcima da ne otplate svoje dugove, navješćuju raspad Europske unije ('But European Union has been torn apart/Well it was doomed form the start'), ali pružaju i malo nade ('Don't let the parting upset you/Cos we will meet again'), a sve to samo s klavirom i glasom, dosta zloguko, dramatično i proročanski, na nekom Eurosongu iz mojih šarenih snova i noćnih mora euro birokrata ova bi pjesma bila uspješnica par excellence. Moglo bi se sada o svakoj pjesmi napisati ponešto, možda bi se moglo, ali za time nema prave potrebe, stvarno su sve dobre i svaka ima malu podlu udicu koja će vas zakačiti i neće vas puštati, a u toj ćete ulovljenosti uživati, vjerujte mi. Imao je moj prijatelj pravo, ovo je zbilja 'Odlično record!' i puno mu hvala što me je na nju upozorio, platit ću mu piće i to ću učiniti već sutra, neću čekati da se ispuni finsko proročanstvo. Treba biti dobar s Nijemcima. U EU ili izvan nje, svejedno.   --Potlista
Igår släppte Cats on fire sin nya video till låten After the fact. Katterna har grupperat om sen sist och på nyaste skivan All blackshirts to me visas en mer tillbakahållen och lite mörkare sida upp. De soliga och direkta indiepopdängorna från främst första skivan har fått ge sig lite för det finska svårmodet. Jag förstår fortfarande inte varför Cats on fire är större utomlands än i Finland trots att musiken påminner en hel del om Leevi and the leavings, som för de flesta anses väldigt finskt.   --Prince Farming
Piensas en Finlandia y un iceberg puede aparecer frente a ti. Recreas la imagen del Círculo Polar Ártico y quizás sientas que la sangre ha dejado de fluir. También recuerdas que te hablaron de sus veranos interminables y la utopía de un sol que jamás parecía ocultarse. Si te esfuerzas un poco más, probablemente te enteres que los fineses cuentan con el mejor sistema educativo del mundo. Buscas las razones para explicar por qué esa banda de tierras tan alejadas y extremas produce la mejor música del momento. Tal vez consideres que Mattias Bjorkas, el compositor de estos mininos candentes, concentra todas las virtudes de The Smiths y The Go-Betweens, y desafortunadamente también sus defectos, en especial por su corte de cabello. Bailarás o susurrarás piezas melancólicas, y no creerás que ellas se puedan referir al eurocentrismo o a la capacidad del arte para imitar al fútbol. Pareciera que estuviéramos hablando de un nuevo Jarvis Cocker, pero lo cierto es que no estamos ante unos debutantes (llevan tres álbumes editados a la fecha) y que su sonido se decanta en esta ocasión por el pop de cámara: menos sintetizadores que en el pasado y cuerdas clasicistas para abrigar sus cálidas melodías. Una mirada lúcida desde los extramuros del continente sobre lo que ocurre en el corazón de un imperio que se viene abajo, y que no olvida al mismo tiempo la importancia de saber combinar tu vestimenta. En conclusión, todo lo que necesitas saber de la vida encapsulado en el formato de una canción.   --Revista 69
Je commence par écrire le nom du batteur de ce groupe finlandais, par esprit de conquête: «Yrjö Ylijoki». Au son, on dirait des petits bruits destinés à amadouer un chat ou un enfant. Mon clavier a tenu, mon traitement de texte aussi, et si vos yeux n’ont pas fondu, on peut continuer. Musicalement ça se confirme: on a affaire à un groupe d’indie-pop affreusement sympathique, dominé par la figure de leur chanteur Matthias Björkas, à la voix chaude et étranglée, qui donne l’impression d’écouter un album de Girls où l’on croirait en la vie, l’album d’un Pete Doherty qui n’aurait bu que des diabolos-grenadine. Le défaut de cet album est de déployer trop de bonnes intentions pour que nos oreilles désabusées puissent en traiter le quart. Certains titres sont presqu’inécoutables de kitsch (The Sea Within You, Well Well What Have You Done). Mais le prix à payer pour la découverte de cet album est d’accepter de résider au pays des Ewoks, le temps de son écoute. Et l’on en sera récompensé par quelques petites pépites aussi brillantes que les yeux d’une héroïne de manga shōjo, comme l’inaugurale Our Old Centre Back, It’s Clear Your Former Lover ou la brillantissime A Different Light. Björkas possède le don rare des mélodies géniales, même s’il leur choisit un écrin de chansons naïves. Un disque des plus honnêtes, qui devrait trouver ses auditeurs. Et, ce qui suit n'a rien à voir, mais comme j’ai encore quelques signes à dépenser dans cette chronique, je signale à toutes fins utiles que le dernier Smashing Pumpkins, Oceania, est parfaitement dégueulasse. Et ne mérite en l’occurrence aucune chronique personnalisée. Désolé, Cats On Fire; je le répète, votre album à vous est très cool.   --Sonotone
Antes de escribir estas líneas y entregar un producto final, pensé en redactar un rollo de pretensión, evolución y demás adjetivos para describir este disco; cosas que al final del día dan igual, solo calificativos inútiles que no alcanzan siquiera a dimensionar el placer de escuchar una buena banda. Al final del día, la mejor manera de describir un disco son los sentimientos que tienes hacia este o la banda que lo hace. Habiendo explicado lo anterior, puedo decir con toda seguridad que me gustan los Cats on Fire. Siempre ha sido así y espero que siga siéndolo por el resto de mi vida. Lo que me gusta de los Gatos en Fuego, en general, es ese encanto del tradicional pueblito bello que hay cualquier municipio. El lugar que sabes que no cambiará. Cuando regresas, pase el tiempo que pase, el lugar será el mismo. Ocurrirán pequeños cambios, transformaciones… pero en esencia, será el mismo. Con este All Blackshirts To Me, su tercer álbum, los Cats on Fire no se salen de la línea definida que manejan siempre: arreglos bellos de guitarra, esos geniales arponazos de jangly pop que tanto amo, un bajo acompañador, bataca que no sobresale pero no decepciona; en fin, nada nuevo, por ahí dos o tres detalles de distorsión y efectos de guitarra, piano. Fuera de esto, digamos manejan la misma tónica. El disco abre con “Our Old Centre Back”, canción que mientras más escucho, creo se convierte poco a poco en un futuro clásico. “My Sense Of Pride” es la clásica canción de los Cats on Fire. Muestran su ya conocida habilidad para manejar guitarras bien estructuradas y acompañamiento más que coordinados, esas letras tan expresivas y directas de Mattias (bien aprendidas de Morrissey): “Nothing is shaking and I want to have my job back, this time my sense of pride won’t stand in the way I’ve lost that long ago”. Brillante. “A Different Light” es de los tracks que más me llamó la atención, el intro es súper diferente a todo lo anterior que ha hecho la banda, casi como si se tratara de una agrupación de dream pop, un track que mezcla su estilo clásico con algo de experimentación. “1914 And Beyond”, “It’s Clear Your Former Lover” y “Finnish Lace” son ejemplos de muy buenas canciones, sobre todo la última, que es una de las piezas más bellas que he escuchado en el año, un ejemplo perfecto de que el arte no requiere complejidad. “There Goes The Alarm”, “After The Fact”, “The Sea Within You”, “Well Well What Do You Know”, “Smash It To Pieces”, “A Few Empty Waves” son temas que no desentonan con lo demás, si bien no alcanzan la calidad de las otras, se sostienen con el resto de la producción. En resumen, la banda logra con All Blackshirts To Me mantener la enorme calidad que tienen y han logrado mantener desde aquel 2003 que sacaron su primer EP. Creo me gustaría poder decir más, expresar con mayores palabras y detalladamente las razones por las cuales amo a los Cats On Fire y este disco; pero como lo dije al principio, lo más honesto y sencillo que puedo decir es que me gustan, muchas veces el amor y el gusto nacen sin razón, misma que sólo se revela así misma con el tiempo. Por el momento, sé que con este disco encontraré la mía.   --Sound and Vision
Aunque han abandonado algo la inmediatez de sus primeros trabajos para centrarse en una propuesta más meditada y reflexiva, Cats on Fire continúan siendo uno de los pilares maestros sobre los que se asienta el actual panorama musical nórdico. Finlandeses ellos, son el paradigma de lo que normalmente nos encontramos por esos parajes: amor por la melodía, actitud un tanto distante y algo altiva incluso pero soberbias y grandes canciones. Como las que nos encontramos en este All blackshirts to me (2012). Un disco que es menos inmediato que sus dos trabajos previos, pero que les acerca a la órbita de los grandes compositores, de los grandes talentos que nos deleitan con grandes trabajos cada cierto tiempo. El comienzo del disco resulta espectacular, y es donde se sitúan los mejores cortes del álbum: comenzando por la melancólica Our old centre back, nos encontramos de sopetón con ese himno intemporal de Jangle-Pop llamado My sense of pride, donde continúan esos tonos a medias entre melancólicos (en los que se ha especializado el grupo) y algo serenos. Todo un temazo tremendo que nos evoca lo mejor del Pop escandinavo de los últimos años. El círculo se cierra con A different light, otra canción impresionante, que nos evoca lo mejor de la producción más Pop de Belle and Sebastian. Es cierto que a partir de aquí la intensidad del disco baja considerablemente, aunque nos encontramos con temas notables: The sea within you, Well well what do you know, la política 1914 and beyond; para cerrar prácticamente con un set acústico en toda regla: Finnish lace o A few empty waves. Un disco este All blackshirts to me de tintes más íntimos, más reflexivos, más cercano a la madurez compositiva que a la energía rutilante de quien empieza. Todo un signo de evolución del que podemos extraer momentos más que interesantes.   --The Janglebox
Wer denkt, Finnland hätte nur Künstler, wie The Rasmus, oder diverse Metalbands a lá Lordi zu bieten, wird mit Cats On Fire eines besseren belehrt. In Sachen Indie Musik geht im kalten Teil Europas nämlich auch einiges. "All Blackshirts To Me" schimpft sich das neue, mittlerweile dritte Studioalbum der Feuerkatzen. Nach dem Hype der beiden Vorgänger "The Province Complains" und "Our Temperance Movement" ist verständlich, dass die 5 Bandmitglieder erstmal die Bühnen Skandinaviens, Europas und Übersee beglücken müssen und die Meute befriedigen, die wie wild ihre Alben kaufen. Beim hören der neuen 12 Songs, bildet sich ein passender Eindruck einer Liveshow der Finnen. Kleine beschauliche Locations, das ein oder andere Weinglas auf dem Tisch, Lächeln auf allen Gesichtern und ein zufriedenes Grinsen nach dem Konzert. Ähnlich verhält es sich bei der knapp 45-minütigen Laufzeit von "All Blackshirts To Me", die gleiches zufriedenes Lächeln auf die Gesichter zaubern wird. Cats On Fire bringen mit "All Blackshirts To Me" keine großartigen Neuerungen auf dem Musikmarkt, vielmehr liefert die Combo schönen und brauchbaren Indie-Sound. 9/10   --Titus
Dopo essersi fatti amare col loro “Our Temperance Movement”, i Cats On Fire si sono lasciato attendere per ben tre anni, nel corso dei quali hanno comunque regalato qualche nuova gemma come “The Hague” e una corposa raccolta di vecchi brani e singoli sparsi (“Dealing In Antiques”). Adesso per l’assoluta eccellenza indie-pop finalndese è finalmente tempo di un nuovo disco, che proprio in questi giorni viene pubblicato in patria dall’etichetta Soliti e per il resto del mondo dalla benemerita Matinée. L’album si intitola “All Blackshirts To Me” e fin dai primi ascolti le sue dodici tracce mostrano un accentuato profilo acustico, a far da scheletro a popsong meno scatenate rispetto al recente passato ma con tutte le carte in regola per far breccia grazie al loro delicato sapore agrodolce.   --Tracce di Emozioni
Muchos dicen que Cats On Fire son en estos momentos la mejor banda de indie-pop en Finlandia gracias a sus canciones pop con ese toque melancólico y etéreo. All Blackshirts To Me quizás sea el mejor disco de una banda que aún tiene mucho que decir. Doce canciones bastante limpias que dan una vuelta de tuerca a su música, alejándose un poco de las melodías más inmediatas para embarcarse en algo más íntimo y subjetivo, recordando a The Smiths, The Sundays o Belle & Sebastian.   --Una Piel de Astracán