Audio Review: Cate Le Bon – Reward

Posted 5 months ago in Music Reviews

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Cate Le Bon


[Mexican Summer]

Deftly balancing pastoral isolation with the mechanically hewn darts and jerks of post punk; Cate Le Bon’s latest and strongest release to date was penned during a spell studying furniture design in rural Cumbria – designing chairs by day and moonlighting at the piano. Since first announcing herself with a string of essential EPs and full lengths, Le Bon has established herself as one of the most consistently engaging figures in the art-rock landscape. Her work’s inspired coalescence of absurd obfuscation and shit-hot choruses feels a worthy continuation to the monumental achievements of Wire, Television and even Swell Maps.

One arc present in Le Bon’s output thus far is her deepening lack of concern with notions of immediacy. Where earlier records were chock full of spiky but hummable riffs – Le Bon has increasingly focussed her attention on crafting songs that gradually reveal the depth of their nuance over time. Her evolving relationship to experimentation – exemplified in side projects like DRINKS and BANANA, as well as through her growing reputation as a producer of formidable grace, vision and nuance – has paid out like a slot machine. Where she previously elevated more stripped back, garage and folk informed styles, Reward finds Le Bon operating in the rarefied air of Kate Bush or Robert Wyatt.

When it comes to the grubby task of music criticism, only the finest records are this resistant to having the full breadth of their brilliance reduced to a few hundred words.

Words: Danny Wilson

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