There’s a familiar vein that courses throughout Australia’s Gypsy & The Cat’s new album, The Late Blue. It’s a vein that carries a wide breadth of various musical influences, winding through each track leaving bits and pieces of this familiarity, while also diverging into unknown directions. There can be a fine line when it comes to incorporating musical influences and doing so without having that familiarity overshadow the song. Gypsy & The Cat straddles this line throughout The Late Blue – honestly and unabashedly conveying their influences, while maintaining elements of novel originality and a cultivated sound that’s all their own.
What’s interesting about the influential elements that are included in this album is that these elements aren’t tied to one era or band. Instead, they express a clear linear line from 60’s and 70’s prog and pysch rock bands through the new wave sound of the 80’s and into current bands like MGMT. Pieces of these eras are woven throughout each track, giving the entire album that air of familiarity, but doing so without completely forsaking their own authenticity. The bass line on “Only in December” for example, quickly becomes an earworm in the vein of MGMT’s “Electric Feel”, and is coupled with some quirky Gotye-esque twangs in the chorus, giving it an otherworldly feel. Then, tracks like “Broken Kites” initially parallel the Gorillaz “Feel Good Inc” but with a dreamy interlude of a chorus that meanders off, eventually coming back to the infectious bass line and settling in to its effervescent electro-pop feel. “The Late Blue” has a “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” by Tame Impala vibe, while simultaneously morphing into a completely different sounding tune by the second half, creating two segments that somehow flow seamlessly into one another thanks to the ever-present bass.
The dominant element that ties the album together is this ever present, reverberating bass line. The obvious song influences (i.e. “Electric Feel”) on this album all have in common a similar heavy, leading bass. Here, the bass drives this entire album, sometimes in a familiar and obviously influenced way, and sometimes with a refreshing variation like on “Soul Kiss”, with its deep, funk groove and a bass that growls. It’s a track that probably encompasses best the overall sound of the album without the muddiness of other song or band comparisons. “Bloom”, on the other hand, takes the bass line and overlays it with an infectious, new wave-based guitar in the vein of New Order and The Cure. While lyrically short but poignant, it’s a catchy, buoyant song thanks to its sonic fullness. “Zombie World” repeats this formula with a mere three lines of lyrics, again focusing on the continuity of sound within the vast, synth landscape.
Each track adheres to that line of cohesion thanks to the bass and the overall synth-fueled vibe of the album, all while walking that fine line of pulling in outside influences into each song. Straddling that line of incorporating elements without losing sight of their own unique sound is a tightrope walk the band takes throughout this album. Sometimes, it falls too far to one side, bringing to mind too specific a song or band. And sometimes, they manage to perfectly find that balance- walking the tightrope with the aplomb of a circus performer. The familiarity is there throughout The Late Blue, and by adding their own layers they create a sound that is, somehow, not so familiar at all. [B-]