The 4th outing from acoustic based Pavlov’s Cat, and the first full length studio recording since 2004’s Burlington Road, bristles with articulate venom and intrigues with story songs and a cast of eccentric characters. Singer-songwriter James Hibbins explains, “The objective was a make an old-fashioned, honest album with a coherent feel and look, a sleeve with notes and lyrics”. The sound is stripped back with just enough ornamentation on each track from Hibbins (acoustic & electric guitars), producer/percussionist/keyboard player David Booth and long-term live collaborator, multi-instrumentalist Bernard Hoskin (guitars, mandolin, violin, bass). “We took an early decision make it feel real, almost like a live performance. We chose more expressive takes over the most perfect, leaving in squeaks, creaks and the occasional bum note. Minimal compression was applied during the mastering which means it should all sound natural and unproduced but you might need to turn it up a bit.” The resulting feel is reminiscent of Wings’ Band on the Run on full band arrangements or early Elliott Smith on more intimate tracks. Drawing on the best of band’s live set and specially written new compositions, these are Hibbins’ most overtly political songs yet, referencing 9/11, economic crisis and Middle East warmongering but somehow within an optimistic context of real characters awaiting a rendezvous in a greasy cafe, telling ghost stories or making drunk reminiscences of half remembered loves. As ever, the band are difficult to categorise drawing on and re-writing elements of English and Irish folk but with a sound which could equally well be filed under acoustic pop/rock, singer-songwriter or indie.
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