This Brunswick, Australia indie-pop foursome have never met a compilation they didn’t like, offering tracks to more split-singles than Stereolab. Almost all of that work is compiled on these two comprehensive CDs, which contain (between them) almost 60 songs from 7-inches, flexis, homemade cassettes and comps released by the independent labels Shelflife, Harriet, Cassiel and Four Letter Words.
As suggested by song titles like “You Left a Note on the Table,” “Nothing’s Ever Quite That Simple,” “I Can’t Sleep Thinking You Hate Me” and “What Time Is It There?,” the Cat’s Miaow wears its indie-pop heart proudly on its sleeve. (And some of its influences in its selection of covers by everyone from Patsy Cline to the Beatles to Chris Bell.) What sets the group apart from the crowd, however, is lyrics that are uncommonly mature and literate. Heartache here is coupled with serious reflection, and the songs bear the bitter sting of regret and loss. They speak complicated, painful truths with great honesty and emotion, sung with dreamy, understatement on fluttering, fragile angel-wing melodies. Sarah, ’60s pop and old-time French sounds are the obvious influences on the Cat’s’ gently chiming guitars.