What comes to mind when you hear the name Cat Rapes Dog? If you’re an American wholly ignorant of the Swedish electropunk scene the answer is probably: nothing. But, then the entire thirty year discography of this band has probably passed you by, and you’re missing out.
By listening to Life Was Sweet, you’d never know they’ve just returned from a 14 year hiatus. Trying to define Cat Rapes Dog’s sound is difficult at best. The first few songs had those gritty female backing vocals and signature deep bass synth.
From “God Hates Christians” on, they come out swinging. Abrasive, under-produced, and energetic you’re not sure if their music makes you want to wave your hands in the air or kick over your little brother’s writing table, but you’re sure they’d approve of both. The fast tempo and EBM synths are a perfect example of what to expect from the remainder of this album.
When the album starts to slow down by “Falling Apart” it somehow gets heavier. This song has grinding guitars and a slick syncopated beat that leaves you certain skeletons crab walking into your windows; the horn sections are perfectly placed accentuating the ambiance of the song.
Other songs like “Vote!” have a playfulness of 80s music, with offbeat drums and near-spoken word lyrics. You almost expect the congo-like drums fills and shouted repetitious refrains, and they deliver; all perfectly in place. River of Pain with all its plucked synth and theramin seems completely appropriate with the approach of Halloween. Did I hear a shaker in “Crystal Ball“? The album never seems to drag; their beats toward the end of the album belie their punk roots with a simplicity that shows that less truly can be more.
“Head Around” is composed of a traditional EBM synth and a rhythm that’s mostly hi hats tapped out to the strut of a tomcat. The final track “A Thousand Years” had a xylophone in it so I don’t need to say anything else about that track, but I will. It seemed an odd choice to round out the album. It had no finality, no sense of cadence or resolution to either the album or itself. Perhaps this is an appropriate end for Cat Rapes Dog. You’re left with the sensation that the energy never dips, that the rock isn’t quite over and you’re left with a sense of wonder as to what is next.
Cat Rapes Dog is the perfect blend of retro and slick electro rock; they blend a sound that’s ageless, progressive, and at times chaotic. Their synths tap deep into the roots of EBM, but their rhythms and vocal elements are clearly punk in influence with a healthy dose of spooky accent.