The Cat Empire

So Many Nights

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If there were a Wikipedia page dedicated to party bands, the Cat Empire would take up three-quarters of the entry. Or it should, anyway, based on fourth album So Many Nights. With its near-diabolical energy and busted-wide trailer of influences -- here you'll find Afro-Cuban beats, a little klezmer, some reggae, and nods to hip-hop, disco, R&B, pure pop, and rock -- this is a record that rocketed out of Australia ready to throw back margaritas with the world. Tracks like "Fishies" and "So Many Nights" are aggressively accessible, if such a thing is possible. And even when frontman and singer Felix Riebl, who can sound like Mark Knopfler when he wants to, is playing it mellow, as he does on the strong and lovable track "No Longer There," it sounds as though he's being chased. Maybe by a shark. If there is a criticism worthy of being lobbed at So Many Nights, it's that the album is long -- nitpicky listeners will note that the overall excellency of the songs ebbs around track ten and picks back up again at track 13, "Strong Coffee." But that shouldn't stop anybody from tipping her party hat to this effort -- not that many records are worthy of being designated a blast, but this one is.

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