CYRK

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In the late 00s the music scene was awash with terrible Nu-Folk/Americana/Folk Rock (delete as appropriate) acts and audiences were lapping them up/humouring them/despising them (delete as appropriate). At around the same time I was starting to think that Cate Le Bon would become the much needed saviour of modern British folk music. I may have been in the minority there as her criminally overlooked 2009 debut Me Oh My received a mixed critical reaction (currently sitting at 63% on this website), live performances were scarce and I wasn’t quite sure if Le Bon would quite make it to album #2. Fast forward to 2012 though and she’s back with a new album (which features members of Race Horses and Gruff Rhys), some glowing press (particularly from US critics), an occasionally revamped sound and a glimpse of hope that some much deserved recognition awaits her.   First though, to the album itself, and where Me Oh My was reflective and laid back to the extreme, Cyrk has more of an electrified garage influence running through it. In fact, the album opens with the slow fade-in to a fast paced clatter, which highlights the differences between the two records and also gives you the instant impression that Le Bon has a point to prove. The vintage production work from Krissie Jenkins is fuzzy and ramshackle, reminiscent of early Super Fury Animals (minus the grating tin) but it’s not all upbeat, and the album is scattered with the ponderous lullabies that we’ve become accustomed to (see “The Man I Wanted”, “Through The Mill”). Some perfectly placed synthesiser acts as a mechanical harmoniser to Le Bon’s floating, dreamy vocals and adds an extra dimension to much of this record (particularly so on highlights such as “Fold The Cloth” and the title track “Cyrk”) and just when you think you’ve got Le Bon sussed, she turns the table on you; “Julia” is a dark and broody ¾ beat waltz which has an eerily disharmonious anti-chorus (reminiscent of The Beatles’ Abbey Road classic “I Want You (She's So Heavy)) and “Greta” ends in a crescendo of noise, a lone trumpeter and a military drum. It’s nice to know that, despite the increasing media attention, Cate Le Bon is still an eccentric, an outcast and is possibly the saviour of modern British folk music.

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Cate Le Bon
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