123. Song No. 1,703: “Cats are not Lucky Creatures,” World/Inferno Friendship Society
Me V. Angry Mob EP, 2005
All right, look: It’s a song about what surviving the mean streets looks like for a stray cat, yes, but it fucking slaps. And it, like WIFS in general, sounds to me what Mikhail Bulgakov’s novels feel like; in this particular instance, Heart of a Dog. (I mean, I guess this is kind of an hilarious association given the band’s sincere anarchist bent [ACAB face masks are the beautifully modern solution to two modern problems we all need right meow] and Bulgakov’s fierce criticism of communism, though the former seems to aspire to its inevitable textbook ideal — socialism begets communism begets anarchy, in an ideal application — while the latter was railing against a political regime that seized on the worst parts divorced from its utopian potential when power doesn’t corrupt it, but that’s a gin-soaked rant better left for my unsuspecting group texts.)
I had a wonderfully, whimsically and somehow also darkly unique friend two years younger than me in college, one of those old souls who wasn’t doing it for show and who came from a place that gave her a perspective wise beyond her years. Among the offbeat tastes she joyously cultivated, World/Inferno Friendship Society was one she eagerly shared with me, stuffing my iTunes with something she had described as “cabaret punk” (a genre description that has followed those digital files across a number of computers and still stands in my current iTunes library). They took a few listens to stick, but it was pretty hard for me to deny the appeal of a richly cacophonic dark cabaret with one helluva crushing horn section.
This song is why I fell hard when I fell for WIFS: It’s deeply literary, somehow decadent and threadbare, somehow also beautifully orchestrated and masterfully disheveled, an intoxicating mix betraying both the freedom and the dirty underbelly of life authentically lived.
Most of all, every WIFS album is a party album. Some bands have a blast making music and it shows; some bands celebrate life with music, and it just radiates some special kind of tangible energy and passion that’s a delight to behold, even when they’re confronting starvation, funerals and the familiar rush of running from the cops.