My imagined travelogue listening to the newest Cate Le Bon goes something like this: Dreaming of stardust on the French Riviera, then collapsing into a cesspool in an abandoned hotel, and finally, feeling fine linens as the ash from Vesuvius engulfs and petrifies you, immortalizing you in your final gesture. There's something so cold and remote about these visions, but also an intangibly intimate quality birthed from the shards of our collective memories. This antagonism between confession and obscuring is what underlines the strange alchemy of Le Bon's work.
But even in the midst of grappling with the heaviness of what that means, Le Bon has re-emerged with a collection that shows her poised in her pop era. Beyond the exceptional songwriting, Le Bon's approach is as daring as ever. Adorned with a familiar lens, you'll uncover a wide array of influence -- from bits and pieces of Stereolab, avant-garde touchstones, and elements of '70s rock.
Isolation can lead to brilliance or madness, occasionally both. Having moved north of bustling Helsinki to the quiet artist community of Lake Tuusula, Finnish composer Jean Sibelius spent a decade or so struggling to write his eighth symphony before eventually throwing it into his dining room fireplace to ease his troubled mind. Escaping a sense of entrenched mediocrity in North Carolina, Justin Vernon broke up with his girlfriend, holed up in his dad's Wisconsin hunting cabin, and emerged months later with Bon Iver's instantly acclaimed For Emma, Forever Ago.
Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon took the creative isolation approach to an extreme on this record.
Across gardens, harbours, invisible towns and fountains that empty the world, Cate Le Bon's sixth solo album charts out territories beyond the locked-down rooms of Reykjavik and Cardiff where it began life, beyond even the mercurial world outside of them. While certain records from this era will no doubt bear the mark of the zeitgeist more than others - Charli XCX's 'How I'm Feeling Now', Sleaford Mods' 'Spare Ribs' - 'Pompeii' will be better remembered as an excursion from the banal than a documentary of it. Where 2019's 'Reward' refined her usual repertoire of sax, drums, and sporadic droll into something a little more ornate, Le Bon's latest feels lush and verdant, busied by wandering basslines and unexpected bursts of falsetto.