Cate Le Bon


There's a lot going on with the new Cate Le Bon record, but underneath, it's all heart, finds Cat Caie

The story told by Cate Le Bon’s Pompeii risks being engulfed by the overall busyness of the instrumentation. But there is an intriguing sense of unity to be found here despite the varying styles, influences, and genres interwoven into each song. The more the audience is drawn in by the different sounds and textures, the more the meaning behind the lyrics comes to the surface.

Intriguing both in title and in content, ‘Cry Me Old Trouble’ feels dream-like and nostalgic, with reminiscence of Tango in the Night by Fleetwood Mac. The comparative simplicity of the song allows space for the lyrics to take the foreground. The vocal melody is playfully moody and, although naturally repetitive, is also commanding, making for an overall engaging and seductive song.

A catchy single, ‘Moderation’ is introduced to us by a clangy guitar, immediately setting the tone of the song. Le Bon’s vocals make for a spectral softness, similar to that of Florence and the Machine. The sparsity, followed by underlying bass notes and wind instruments, helps to titillate before a groovy crescendo, where the subject matter of the song comes into focus. The somewhat ambiguous lyrics enable the listener to identify with whatever they wish to, though the overarching theme seems to be one of addiction – whether that be a chemical addiction or a romantic one. Either way, ‘Moderation’ is pleasantly mellow whilst also being brilliantly powerful.

Similarly, the title track ‘Pompeii’ feels like the bit before the sunset, where the sky is a grey-ish pink colour, ready to be taken over by saturated hues. It effortlessly weaves textures of serene synthetic noises with purposeful percussion, leading the way down a narrative path. As the song evolves, it becomes more apparently experimental in sound. The out of tune notes collide together to exhibit a similar theme to the rest of the album, one of introspection and psychological reflection.

Pompeii managed to engrain an image in my mind of wet London streets in the early hours of the morning after a late breakup. It conjures up a wistfulness for times you don’t even necessarily want to revisit. Beneath all the complex layering of instruments, the whirlwind of sounds and styles, it’s these simple and powerful feelings that cut through.

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