Cate Le Bon – Crab DayCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Rather than amassing a complex and eclectic sound gradually throughout her career, Cate Le Bon’s music began its life labyrinthine, with progression being more a process of refinement as opposed to accumulation. Her art is closer to that of a sculptor chiselling away at a large rock than a painter tirelessly layering. Her pool of influences has always been deep, yet through a close collaboration with other artists, these influences have achieved their most bountiful harvest to date on fourth album Crab Day.
All of Le Bon’s previous collaborators have had an effect on her sound, from the Britpop sensibilities of former touring partner Gruff Rhys to Megan Childs pouring Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s psych-wistfulness into the Le Bon canon. Whilst on previous albums her influences have become tied-up and convoluted, Crab Day is the conclusion of an unravelling process that began with 2013’s Mug Museum. Nowadays she is more frugal with her offerings of clunky MacArthur Park piano and fidgety television riffs.
This refining process has left her current sound exposed and razor-sharp, which is most evident on single Wonderful. It’s all jagged guitars and staccato bass, fighting to contain an obvious Talking Heads influence, which it ultimately succeeds in doing, coming up very much a Cate Le Bon song. In fact the very first lyrics of the album are as follows: “It doesn’t pay to sing your songs”, and later, “the bottom line is in the how” – an ironic meditation on the subject of originality, reinforced by the vocal delivery’s close proximity to Nico.
Delightful oddities are ubiquitous, from the crustacean national holiday title to the bizarre and buoyant I’m a Dirty Attic – which wouldn’t be out of place on a Julian Cope album, with its wandering psychedelic guitars and marching rhythm. Le Bon has a delicate way with melody, and these simple hooks carry the songs through a tender sparsity. The album culminates in the pulsating What’s Not Mine, a seven-and-a-half minute pounding of every instrument, complemented by hauntingly caustic vocals. Tension grows exponentially until it crashes into a jaunty noodling of piano and guitar, skipping out of the room as only a Cate Le Bon album can, leaving the door wide open for whatever comes next, or whatever her musical sculpture ends up resembling.
Crab Day is released on 15th April 2016, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Wonderful here: