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Cate Le Bon - Pompeii (Album Review)

Wednesday, 09 February 2022 Written by Huw Baines

Cate Le Bon’s wonderful sixth album ‘Pompeii’ provides ample evidence that the Welsh psych-folk musician’s imagination and ambition are not determined solely by the vibrancy of her surroundings.

With previous records captured between Los Angeles and the Lake District, this one came together in isolation in Cardiff at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. As cloistered as that existence was for so many of us, the music Le Bon made during that time offers a retrospective window on colourful, exciting landscapes.

Written largely on bass, and with Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa and co-producer Samur Khouja providing outside voices, the songs here prioritise loping grooves to offset Le Bon’s insistent melodies, which wear their odd syntax and clipped delivery like badges of honour. 

These are some of the most classically pleasing songs Le Bon has put out, showing that pop music need not stay in its lane to succeed. There are detours and remarkable washes of synth and sax here, just as there are hook-centric moments such as the single Moderation: a rolling Laurel Canyon jam done up in tie-dye.

“Every fear that I have, I send it to Pompeii,” Le Bon sings on the title track, matching a reassuring sort of fatalism to another bass-led highlight, where her vocals cut back against the grain in a manner that would have suited David Byrne and Talking Heads circa ‘Remain in Light’.

The deeper Le Bon gets into her career the more remarkable it becomes, with the nature of her writing—both searching and grounded in melody—bonded to excellent quality control given that she’s drawn to taking the scenic route whenever presented with it.

Cate Le Bon Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon March 14 2022 - SOUTHAMPTON Engine Rooms
Tue March 15 2022 - LONDON Hackney Empire
Wed March 16 2022 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Thu March 17 2022 - GLASGOW SWG3
Fri March 18 2022 - BELFAST Empire Music Hall
Sat March 19 2022 - DUBLIN National Concert Hall
Mon March 21 2022 - LIVERPOOL Liverpool Arts Club
Tue March 22 2022 - LEEDS Irish Centre
Wed March 23 2022 - BIRMINGHAM Mill

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