Klaxons, Best Coast and Wavves are all cool for cats

… but only art-rock veterans Devo would go so far as to hold a listening party for our feline friends

When Mercury-winning new ravers Klaxons revealed the artwork for their long-awaited second album, Surfing The Void, it caused the internet to collectively WTF at their determined-looking cat wearing an orange spacesuit. But why the cat?

"We felt that since we released [first album] Myths Of The Near Future, there'd been a huge influx of artwork that used a lot of spare graphics and triangles," Klaxon Jamie Reynolds tells us. "We could think of no better way to say we'd moved on from this than with a comic image that said the cat had been to space and returned to tell us of a quiet, cold, vacuous place."

The internet has turned cats into a signifier of cute and stupid anticool, be they inanely captioned lolcats (ie pictures of cute kittens with grammatically challenged subtitles about hamburgers); the YouTube hit Keyboard Cat; or the photoblog Hipster Kitties, which features cats donning hip shades. So it makes sense that bands should use them to increase their online meme power. After all, it worked for We Are Scientists, who covered their faces with kitties for the cover of their major label debut, and Smog, whose Knock Knock cover depicted a powerful cat – a less-than-cryptic nudge to Bill Callahan's ex, Cat Power.

In recent years, the web has turned cats into harbingers of bad irony, humiliating failure and poorly spelt humour. In spite of this, there's been a fresh invasion of felines in music. So what message does that send for the bands concerned?

Bethany Cosentino, half of California slackers Best Coast, congratulated Klaxons on their furry cosmonaut, tweeting, "dear klaxons, yr record cover is amazing. love, bethany the cat lady". Her beloved cat Snacks is on the cover of her forthcoming debut, Crazy For You, swimming off a scrappily collaged beach which, aptly, is as kitsch and naïve as her simple surf rock. In San Diego, lo-fi scuzzers Wavves have put a totally bodacious cartoon cat on the cover of their third album, King Of The Beach, proffering a doobie from one cocked paw.

As ever, Devo have taken things a step further, throwing 20 lucky moggies a listening party for new album, Something For Everybody. "We were doing it for real and as a bit of a joke, poking fun at pop culture," said Bill Moulton, their art director. The cats didn't seem bothered by the music, preferring to loll around on a scratching post in the shape of Devo's famed energy dome, but then they were urbane industry cats.

The ultimate kittylols portal, I Can Has Cheezburger, has shown that cats are big business, raking in an annual seven-figure sum from its websites. To bands, a kitty on your cover could equal "I can haz massive album sales?" But the internet is a fickle mistress: cats may be cool today, but in a few years they could be hidin' in ur record colleckshuns, a furballed relic of a long-tired joke.


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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