When I listened to Black Cat, I was expecting an album that I could have some fun with. When I usually dissect an album with my mental scalpel, it’s usually guitar chords or breaking down the mechanics of a rap verse. Sometimes you just want to have some fun. Black Cat as a whole is a quick, fun listen. When I ask people what their favorite Never Shout Never record is, a lot of people would tell me What is Love or Time Travel; which actually seem like they were recorded ages ago, even only being a five year gap. Black Cat is not going to so much rekindle your love for those records, but move you in a direction to prove its self-awareness and improvement upon where Never Shout Never is now.
If you can point to one solidified theme in a Never Shout Never record, it’s that the choruses are catchy. Case in point: listening to the record and, once the chorus doubles down after the second verse, you’ve already memorized it. “Hey! We OK” is a loser’s anthem of sorts. Not in a sense of being a loser, but owning your individuality despite the constructs of what people say. Lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Christofer Drew has always marched to the beat of his own drum, so it was good to hear a fun anthem for himself and the faithful fan. There’s so much instrumentation on this album, it creates an atmosphere for NSN to go places musically that they weren’t able to go in previous releases. This is where the utilization of a full band becomes into play. “Phone Tag” is a good example; you have keyboards, a brief guitar solo, programmed drums, and trumpets. It’s a free-for-all and a fun one at that. “Got to find the cure/so I make the call”. The songs are simple, but yet really well-constructed.
Black Cat is a ten-song, just over thirty minute collection of good times and it was most meant for that. It’s supposed to be a quick hit of an album. Within this happiness, there are points in the album of self-clarity and reflection. “Happy New Year” is the getaway song. “Some people call it hell/I call it home”. The music is not too happy or sad, there’s a middle that both the lyrics and the composition meet where it expresses the feeling of wanting a new start perfectly. “Awkward Conversations” seems like it’s destined for radio or commercials someday. Matter of fact, many of these songs will probably be picked up in that respect, it’s just a shame that summer is ending. This is a summertime album.
Some people will clamor for the older NSN material and I feel that this album does a good job in trying to bridge the gap. There are some common themes that could be expanded on lyrically. Black Cat is either enamored with the concept of love itself or ready to do away with it completely. Now 24 years old, Drew is growing and Black Cat is an indication that we should grow with him.