Katsen are a synth pop duo and their debut LP has just been released on the Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation (Slow Down Tallahassee, Standard Fare and Smokers Die Younger). ‘It’s Hertz!’ is an LP that bleeps and squeeks it’s way through a world where the synthesizer is king. This is pop music with an early 80’s heart. The electronic spirit from bands like the Human League, OMD and Soft Cell is clear in the bands sound. Can music with it roots approaching it’s 30th anniversary still sound futuristic and new? On the evidence present over 40 minutes Katsen are proof that you can take your influences and re-invigorate them for a new generation.
Opener ‘Let’s Build A City’ is a wonderful slice of electro pop that could sit alongside the classics that this genre has thrown up over the years. The original songs on the LP provide some fizzling highs like when ‘Island in an Island’ stutters and stumbles through a glitch fueled start to become a beautiful hypnotic pop tune. There are a couple of cover version nestled on the LP – one is a rather fine take on the Pixies ‘Cactus’. The menace of the original is retained whilst stripping away the guitar anguish. The other cover is ‘German Film Star’ which was original called ‘I’m in love with a German Film Star’ and was hit for the Passions in the early 1980s. It’s a little less successful than ‘Cactus’ as it doesn’t really doesn’t depart too far from the original. In fact, I’d wager that Katsen have a soft spot for the Pixies, as the bass lines that weave their way around the synth pop often remind of the Boston bands finest work. All in all Katsen have produced a rather grand LP that stands up well against past masters and they’re probably at the top of the emerging crop of synth pop upstarts.