Katzenjammer – A Kiss Before You Go (Single Review)
Katzenjammer have a refreshingly spontaneous and free approach to music, unconstrained by the traditional roles band members take. Each of the four band mates keep things fresh and exciting for themselves by approaching every song with a different instrument. The fact that each member has such a detailed musical knowledge and a distinctly uncorperate method of song writing is highly commendable, but without the quality all this ideology is for nothing.
Thank God then that this all girl group from Oslo, Norway have created a gypsy pop powerhouse of catchy, memorable and beguiling anthems that all have their own distinct personalities. There is an incredible variety of genres and tones, from the bracingly different to the downright bizarre.
The album opens with a Germanic dirge chronicling a cautionary tale that transitions into a pop ditty that sounds like Amy McDonald on speed. The album is a roller coaster of highs and lows, turns and spins. On it we have a wonderful variety of European influence from Balkan to Irish to Scandinavian; melancholy ballads, communist propaganda and even a Genesis cover. Cherry Pie and Gypsy Flee not only sound like they were recorded to be on two different albums but by two different bands on two different continents.
However consistency is hard to maintain on an album with so much diversity and there are occasions when certain sheep stray too far from the flock. Some of the songs veer so far into the realm of whimsy they can become nauseating. Cocktails and Ruby Slippers for example takes the high pitched feminine wails too far and stays there for far too long. Cherry Pie is another that becomes so literal in its mimicry of 50’s American female vocal groups it takes on all of their attributes including the sickening wholesomeness.
Fortunately their other pop numbers like Rock, Paper, Scissors and I Will Dance (When I Walk Away) are so infectious and breathtaking it more than makes up for some odd moments of cheese and there are enough sour antidotes for the cupfuls of sugar in such tracks as Lady Marlene and Loathsome M. Call me a miserable bastard but I think this band’s at its best when their voices are grim and their instruments foretell doom.
Katzenjammer are a wildly thrilling band that make you excited to see what twist the next track will reveal. Interesting, thought provoking, using every instrument in their sights in ways that will screw with your mind until you are entirely under their spell.