On her second album, Cate Le Bon mines various points of the 60s – from the Velvet Underground’s strumming electrics to Pentangle’s electric folk. It’s all in search of a new form of kooky pop Le Bon is intent on creating.
On this record however the results are hit and miss. Half the time she succeeds, like on the excellent Puts Me to Work, which tumbles along on a piano and strummed electric. Half the time she struggles – as on opener Falcon Eyed, which bounds along with a psyched-out garage spirit, but remains flat in the melodic stakes.
The Welsh singer has a unique voice, hints of Nico perhaps – so why is it stifled by the mix? Her tones feel muddied by the surrounding guitars and psychedelic organs. When they do clear her personal space, like on the excellent The Man I Wanted, Le Bon’s intonation is crystal clear and all the better for it. Okay, we still are missing a few strong hooks, but have the right mix at least.
Thankfully the positive trend continues with Through the Mill, a softly stepping tale that echoes that of Folk plugged in. And the second-half remains strong with the two-part finale Ploughing Out Pt1 and Pt2.
Cate Le Bon has undoubtedly made a decent record in CYRK, but it feels like her personality is diluted too often by the instrumentation and scattering of weaker songs. I still think we are waiting for the best of Le Bon.