One of the nice things about instrumental music is the liberty of not getting messed around by someone else’s smarty-pants lyrics.
Ideally, good instrumental music should allow the listener to feel something, rather than telling listeners what to feel through some tired, pedantic ballad. Hailing from Madison, Wisconsin, Cougar is an emotive five-piece band who tell musical stories without words, and they do it damned well. Patriot, their second full-length album, is thick with catchy and tasty little electronic tunes, many of which are feisty, unpredictable and bordering on the schizophrenic. Exploring the outer boundaries of its genre through random sequences and surprising interludes, the album is head-spinning and downright inventive at times. One standout track, “Pelourinho” is a great example of this. The song mixes programmed beats and samples alongside sweet harp-like guitar plucking, giving way to a full-blown Middle Eastern breakdown near the halfway point. It’s nutty and beautiful at the same time, revealing a narrative of the romantic artistic life in the heart of Brazil. Body movement is an inevitability in listening to Patriot; this album’s got a real fire to it.