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De Novo Dahl - Cats & Kittens

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Artist: De Novo Dahl

Album: Cats & Kittens

Label: Theory 8

Review date: Jul. 31, 2005

The blokes in Supergrass were dilettantes. Not that they were bad ones, or that dilettantism is necessarily a bad thing, but they were, and their brand of all-fronts pop dilettantism proved very bad for business. All their music was proud of its influences, but the influences varied dramatically from track to track, and the band never aped its influences too much. If you think of Oasis as a success story, it never aped its influences enough. In order to dig what was goin’ on with Supergrass, one had to sign an unusual contract, one that at once promised forgiveness for the easily-mapped derivations and immersion in the band’s own effete charm.

So they’re gone now, and I fear De Novo Dahl will be gone in a few years as well. As much as I think that’s a shame, that’s how these things often work.

Fuck it, though. Cats & Kittens punishes that sort of foresight from the get-go. DND (hailing from Nashville, of all places) dabble in ’60s girl-group pop, ’70s stadium rock, choppy new wave and a whole lotta disco, but view all through their own slightly off-key POV. And it’s all fun-time music - though it’s much more professionally rendered than something debased like Dub Narcotic Sound System. It follows through on that spirit by ditching its ego, or maybe by not having much of one. (An ego, that is, as distinct from a POV.)

If you think it’s fantastic that “Listen Up” utilizes both the line “Do you want to join the revolution?” and a cheesy skating rink organ… that the first movement of the sprawling “The Funk” sounds both like a sensitive reading of new wave conventions and something that might happen in Toys R Us by accident, then see the band live while you still can. If you think that just sounds marginally cool, the album should be available used and cheap in a few years. That’s not to its discredit. Now more than ever, not having a clear identity doesn’t necessarily mean not having a soul.

As if to throw more craypaper in the hole where De Novo Dahl's ego isn't, the bonus Kittens disc features mind-blowingly overdone remixes of select Cats tracks. Nothing but a good time.

By Emerson Dameron

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