While the national emblem of Wales might be the fierce red dragon, Cate Le Bon’s whimsical undercurrent of 70s laidback folk and Nico-embossed vocals paints a picture that counteracts this association.
It was only April this year that Welsh lovely Cate Le Bon released her second album CYRK to critical acclaim. This album marked her triumphant return to music as a solo artist after a three year absence from her debut Me Oh My and saw her carve out her own unique little niche into the garage folk genre mix. This time around Cate has no intention of hanging around and just 4 months later is treating us to another fine record, the counterpart to CYRK, modestly tilted CYRK II.
Recorded in the session as CYRK, this EP is simply the left over material that didn’t quiet make it onto the album. According to Cate, when recording CYRK the 15 tracks laid down naturally split into two camps, so rather than this EP just being a follow on it instead acts as an “older sister” to the original release.
Listening to this album there is more disparity to its structure, there is an unbearable gradational narrative of sadness and dejection contrasted with jagged toothed guitar riffs over a low tempo and simple structure. There is more maturity and refinement to this record that makes Cate’s dream weaving vocals really shine through. CYRK II has been described as an album that bears “songs of a more starkly confessional nature.” They are essential pop songs with darker edges, broody in body but light and whimsical in tone, there is less of an eccentric quirky feel to this record, a quality that made her last album stand out. Instead, these ofcuts feel more like laid back lullabies, sweet in nature yet still distinguished in quality.
Opening tracks ‘The Eiggy Sea’ and ‘January’ expel the simplicity of this album, both songs are timely and steady in pace but it is the intertwining guitar and blocks of percussion that keeps it together like waves streaming across the sea in unison.
‘Seaside Lowtide’ is slow and mediating but gradually builds and breaks into a circus of psychedelic rock rifts. ‘What Is Worse’ plays on with this but introduces small pings of tawny raw garage rock guitar, her husky vocals brings a hollow and serenading tranquillity to its sharper edges.
‘The Moon’ is one of the most melancholic songs on this EP and one of my favourites. The slow strumming guitar plays along with the tinkering of the piano embedding itself into the songs core, the melody slowly wilts along with her weeping timid vocals as she subtly cooing out the sad lyrics of “so far away”.
This record is filled with metaphorical sadness that reads a story of untold sorrow and long forgotten memories that have been hidden away and slowly realised from a locked box. You can’t help but pause for reflection while daydreaming your way through this gem of an EP and be drawn in into its sweeping gloom. If releasing one of this year’s finest records wasn’t enough it appears this follow up is as charming and appealing to the ears as its predecessor.