Single: "If You Feel" 01.02.2019
Album: "Neon" 22.02.2019
Neon, the name of a light that appears in the darkness, at the end of the tunnel of a night that lasted longer than expected.... It’s a way of transforming the darkest parts of our existence; of celebrating life regardless. That’s the mantra adopted by Nina and Yohan, the duo who founded Cats on Trees, friends and lovers, with matching physical and musical aptitudes. Their strength: formidably simple pop, which earned them 200,000 sales of their first eponymous album and more than 200 live shows. During that tour, they wrote dozens and dozens of songs.
But Nina and Yohan want to take their time, to swim against the tide of the frenetic pace of today’s world. After a restorative break, they started recording in Toulouse, their home, behind closed doors. More than ten years after the formation of Cats on Trees, their friendship has stayed strong, deep, intense, almost symbiotic. “We’re both only children,” Yohan explains. “With the group, we created our own family.” In addition to music, they are always enriching themselves artistically: Nina takes photographs, Yohan paints; they both love Max Ernst, Basquiat and Banksy. Their leitmotif? Staying curious.
Neon’s sonic ambition is obvious: “we’re cultivating our love of piano melodies and of the organic, whilst mixing it up with a synthetic texture”. Neon is a testament to the dexterity of their pop, at once raw and crafted, immediate and thoughtful. To achieve this, Cats on Trees teamed up with Pierre Rougean, who coproduced their first album, again and called on Rémy Galichet (Tahiti 80, Yael Naim, Vincent Delerm) for the strings, as well as talented arrangers, Angelo Foley (Christine & The Queens, Eddy de Pretto, Georgio) and the young Belgian producer Elvin Galland.... The team eventually came together at Studio de la Seine in Paris. It was a long process, during which they explored their myriad ideas fully: “We delved into everything, explored all our desires, we have no regrets,” confesses Nina.
The result is ten efficiently melodic tracks, inspired as much by The Beach Boys, Angel Olsen and Arcade fire as by jungle or Frank Ocean. There’s a dance feel to the pop tracks (“Bad Boys”, “If You Feel”), which is both ultracontemporary and retro (“Birthday), borrowing from Oriental chants or tribal rhythms (“Black Lips”). The first single from Neon, the irresistible and aptly named “Keep on Dancing” reveals itself to be a sort of magic potion to chase away the demons of past traumas. You can also hear ballads underscored by strings (“Lion”) in a euphoric orchestral fervor (“Smile”, Tikiway”) or echoes of the sixties conjuring the heyday of Lee Hazlewood (“Blue”, “Birthday”). Nina’s voice ripples around shifts in tempo, there’s an occasional touch of sensual languor but energy is always viscerally at the heart of these rhythms. Faithful to their need to be universal, preoccupied with environmental issues, Nina and Yohan kick off with “Mama Said”, a vibrant call to preserve our future, while taking care of the present.
Introspective and retrospective, Neon moves away from the playful breeding ground of Cats on Trees first tracks, moving the duo into adulthood. Without losing sight of their sense of entertainment, it unites, thanks to a treasure trove of brightly coloured hits, full of contrasts and assured, like the musicians Nina and Yohan have now become.