Cate Le Bon – Pompeii
As far as album titles go, Pompeii is up there with the grandest of them all, but Cate Le Bon’s sixth LP is far more intimate than its name suggests. In fact, at a brisk nine tracks, this thing could almost be called concise – were it not for the small matter of every song lasting more than four minutes.
There’s no denying that Pompeii well and truly makes the most of its run time, though. Single Moderation immediately stands out as one of the most instant tracks in Le Bon’s arsenal. There’s nothing quite like a tightly wound pop song, and in Moderation the Carmarthenshire-born artist has constructed a banger that’s more than worthy of following up her Mercury-nominated 2019 album Reward. Most of the songs on offer begin as a bassline, and nowhere is that more obvious than here. Equally as catchy as its vocal melody, it makes for Le Bon’s most danceable record yet.
The next eight entries follow in a similar fashion, as Le Bon and co-producer Samur Khouja lock into a gloriously intricate mid-tempo groove for the remainder of the album. Lead single Running Away is almost Bowie-esque, with its luxurious saxophone (one of only two instruments not performed by Le Bon on the entire record) stealing the show. Elsewhere, Remembering Me tethers Joni Mitchell melancholy to a beat that wouldn’t be out of place on a Japanese Breakfast release, while closer Wheel’s resignation “to the opulence of abstract optimistic love” marks it out as the emotional crux of the record. In the age of playlists, there are few more cohesive pieces than this.
The only exception is, bizarrely enough, the opener: Dirt on the Road is a brave choice for track one, insomuch as it is by far the least accessible work here. Undoubtedly a grower rather than a shower, it is drumless, dissonant and disarming. As a song, it is strangely compelling; as an introduction to an album that sounds little like it, it is perhaps out of place.
But that’s it as far as missteps go. Pompeii is introspective, airy and, perhaps most importantly, purposeful. It’s a triumph. Le Bon’s impressive run of critically acclaimed releases will surely continue.
Pompeii is released on 4th February 2022. For further information or to order the album visit Cate Le Bon’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Moderation here: