Cate Le Bon - CYRK II
A glut of gushing critics greeted the giddy, oddball-psych of Cate Le Bon's CYRK at the start of the year - so news of twisted 'older sister' EP CYRK II certainly got those very same sinister appraisers in a tizzy. The songs from the sophomore LP sessions "naturally pooled into two camps," with this second instalment billed to be a more confessional, low-key excursion - laced with sadness and, of course, Cate's trademark ominous lyrical content. Although, it seems, that minus all the oddities that made the full length such an exhilarating rickety rollercoaster of a record, CYRK II falls a little flat.
The emphasis here is instantly identifiable - with 'What Is Worse' sounding lethargic and sedated, sporting a BPM similar to CYRK highlight 'Greta'. But devoid of the intrigue and mysticism, which decorated that LSD-doused dreamscape, it plods somewhat agonisingly. Although, it is atoned for by the Welsh-stress's haunting harmonies ("down") and accompanying eery fret play - which thankfully reward late on. 'The Eiggy Sea' shoots for something more instaneous and wears traces of Le Bon's hidden pop sensibility, with it's apathetic repetition of "In the morning I am gone" made bittersweet by the incessant jangly guitars. However, once again, it doesn't feel wholly satisfying - wafting to a conclusion that you'd be pushed to argue was honestly worth the time investment.
'That Moon', on the contrary, is absolutely gorgeous. Fragile, delicate, eloquent and totally mesmerising – it's Velvet Underground's 'Pale Blue Eyes' if Nico was still in tow circa-1969 and possesses a refined falsetto refrain that could melt hearts. It gives way to the sleepy strum of 'Seaside, Lowtide' - which is pretty, if not pretty unremarkable, but for a few bursts of scuzzy lead and loose percussion. But then the enchanting 'January' arrives with its harrowing introductory line "and moving kills me/And it sets me on fire" and as with all Le Bon's best work, its innocent, enchanting chord progression juxtaposes bizarrely with the death-obsessed subject matter to thrilling effect.
Truthfully though it's probably nearer to a collection of LP leftovers that don't quite deserve the merit of their predecessors, than (as we'd desperately hoped) brilliance that simply did not go hand in glove with April's release. Save for a few sparse, standout moments, it's a whimsical waltz for the diehards - but for everybody else, it'll bark at that moon rather than land on it.
Purchase and listen
Cate Le Bon is pretty damn Welsh sounding. She also makes damn pretty music, filled with wistful folk leanings and lovely, dirty, slightly demented sounds. The songs found on her second album, CYRK are all honest, clanging pop songs that manage to take you by surprise with their subtle darker edges and faintly aggressive undercurrent. [read more]
The sound of the album is bright and snappy: bone-dry drums and sharp guitars infuse the peppy 'No God' with a burst of energy, one that makes the contrast with the mournful 'I Think I Knew' all the more marked. The latter track allows the record to hit its stride, Le Bon assisted on vocals by Turnstile stable-mate Perfume Genius. Mike Hadreas's vocals sound as tender and fragile as they've ever been, and his harmonies with Le Bon on the song's second chorus are spot-on. [read more]