to tell the truth, just a week ago I didn’t know anything about Cats on Fire – and now I am thinking how could I possibly live so many years without their tunes? yes, I haven’t been living in Finland for long – that could be my sad excuse – but now that I bought my copy of All Balckshirts To Me, I feel so happy to catch up with what I missed for too long. I simply adore this band: they are the Finnish The Smiths, the Belle & Sebastian from Vaasa, and you really got to know them now, if you don’t yet.
Cats of Fire are actually playing together since 2001 and Vaasa, a small city on the West Coast of Finland and the regional capital of Ostrobothnia, is the home town of the original lineup of the band. Through the years, though, Cats on Fire moved from Vaasa to Turku, Southern Finland, following the path of its members – which had to choose a bigger city to pursue their university studies – and underwent several lineup changes.
Nowadays, Mattias Björkas (vocals, acoustic guitar), Ville Hopponen (electric guitar, backing vocals), Kenneth Höglund (bass guitar), Iiris Viljanen (keyboards, backing vocal) and Yrjö Ylijoki (drums) are the official members of the band, which lives between Turku, Gothenburg and Malmö, traveling back and forth from Finland to Sweden.
The first single by Cats on Fire came out in 2003, in a vinyl edition: Solid Work, released under the local label Elva Records, and was shortly after followed by an EP, Happiness in Chemistry, the year after. The band’s first CD release came out only in 2006, with the EP Draw in The Reins, this time under the Swedish label Fraction Discs.
Eventually, the German label Marsh Marigold released Cats on Fire‘s debut album, in February 2007, The Province Complains, followed by Our Temperance Movement (2009) and Dealing in Antiques (2010) – an extremely pleasant anthology of old EP‘s and previously unreleased tracks.
The third full length album by Cats on Fire is out now, released earlier this year, in March. All Blackshirts To Me is once again a beautiful collection of songs in delightfully twee pop style – which won’t let down all the lovers of The Smiths and Camera Obscura out there. From the 12 songs of the album, My Sense of Pride is my personal favourite.
Mattias Björkas‘s voice, soft and romantic, fits perfectly with the band’s mood – his tone of voice actually reminds me of Robert Smith‘s one, and who doesn’t like The Cure?
Cats on Fire – After the Fact
I promise you, you’ll love Cats on Fire!