On first impression Katsen resemble the sort of band that might soundtrack Nathan Barley, were Chris Morris and co to make another series of the underrated sitcom. Katsen are knowingly quirky, and they make awkward sounding electro-pop a little like Hot Chip and Ratatat minus the mojo, only more entrenched in the eighties sound.
In many ways this is Dunce Cap Dance (© 2009 Richard Wink), because it sounds like it was made by people that are ‘challenged’, and that it is almost impossible to dance to. But you know what, I like it. I like it because there is a lo-fi genuine charm to the retro keyboards and synths employed, and for me the icing on top of the cake is the pleasing cover one of the crowning moments of Surfer Rosa, ‘Cactus’. If you can make a good fist of covering a Pixies song then you are onto a winner.
The duo behind Katsen, Chris Blackburn and Donna Grimaldi blend together well, neither are particularly talented vocalists but their uncomfortable cool comes over nicely, jarring straight away with the coordinated casio bleeps and Atari/Commodore riot jam of ‘Lets Build A City’.
At their most effective Katsen produce brilliance in the form of the crusading ‘Chequered Flag’, the domino scuzz beat of ‘Island Is An Island’ and the excellent Germanic robotic title track. However when it goes wrong, it goes very badly wrong. ‘I’m A Doctor’ borders on being an abysmal joke; ‘What You Want’ is just plain lazy Coin-Op dross.
This album is in many ways like a bunch of roses, primarily aesthetically pleasing yet possessing a few painful thorns.