Cate Le Bon: Cyrk
One part Nico and one part Glasser, Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon is beguiling as she delivers her synth-soaked psychedelic rock. Fans of her countrymen Super Furry Animals may recognize her voice from frontman Gruff Rhys’ side project Neon Neon. Le Bon’s debut solo effort, Me Oh My, asserted her capability to strike out on her own, and Cyrk is another leap forward for the musician.
Le Bon’s voice is just as comfortable in growling, husky tones as it is leaping to chirpy falsetto, and she flits between registers effortlessly. Multitracking on songs like “Julia” allow Le Bon to complement herself, presenting her lyrics twice over to project innocence and weariness at once.
This duality is present in Le Bon’s lyrics and music. Many of the words are dark and present struggle, such as pining on “The Man I Wanted” or a eulogy for a captured creature in “Through the Mill.” Such topics could sound dreary, but instead the rhythm tends to be upbeat, the music catchy. Synths churn their way through the album, though there’s not always harmony, such as the sad horns marking the end of the track “Greta.”
Cate Le Bon is a modern chanteuse who is capable of channeling darkness into beauty, and scars into stylistic flares. She fits in easily with musicians like St. Vincent and Lisa Hannigan, women who confidently carve out their own styles and prove themselves to be much more than skilled voices.