For a band with an image of party rockers, Cat Empire sure come across restrained on Cinema, but with the music being this good, it can only be a sign of maturity. The ska sound is present in full force here -- the group does an energetic romp through swinging rhythms, backing guitars with a brass section all the while, and the vocals sound like Rastafari/indie rock duet, though still more on the indie side. The eclecticism, which always was another nice thing about Cat Empire, is preserved as well, but in moderation -- the band can pull out some hard rock noise, turntable scratching or Cuban rhythms, but those never overshadow the songs or lead them. The music seems to have been processed through a hardboiled alt-rock/jazz hybrid of Morphine, and although it does not turn Cinema into a hardboiled record -- it's still too good-natured by half for that -- it gives it a moody and, well, cinematic feeling: it's not ska noir, but definitely something with a nighttime vibe. Sometimes the music sounds like dub, sometimes like Italian pop, in one or two places even like Phil Collins, but for the most part it's still Cat Empire, who did not lose any of their power, but are simply in a pensive and occasionally dramatic mood because of love woes (of course). The band still packs plenty of groove, but balances it with tension and smoothes the whole thing with great songwriting, and the end result turns out to be an irresistibly catchy album that works just fine whether you decide to dance or brood to it.
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AllMusic Review by Alexey Eremenko