Mug Museum

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A year after the dust has settled on last year's astounding duo of CYRK and CYRK II, Cate Le Bon returns with Mug Museum. The Penboyr born songwriter has relocated to Los Angeles (the traditional rock n roll exile's haven) since then, and this album was recorded at Seahorse Sound studios there, albeit with regular cohorts H Hawkline and Sweet Baboo in tow. Despite the LA connection though, there's definitely more of a New York vibe going on on most of these tracks. Often the quiet strumming will be interjected with some sort of avant garde noise (which will probably do nothing to distance herself from the much harked Nico comparisons), but the music is clearly moving more confidently and into darker corners of Cate's already blackly surrealist subconscious. Opener "I Can't Help You" could be seen as an overture of sorts (if you like it, you'll love the album), helped along by infrequent blasts of brass which cause a cacophonous din before, and during a rousing chorus. On "Duke" the stuttering off kilter guitar eventually forms into a coherent jam with the ultra sparse bass and drums, it's probably the most CYRK-like tune on the album. "Sisters" stays upbeat for its entire duration, a rarity for a song by Le Bon, its charm comes from the softened vocals sitting on top of it. "Mirror Me" is the epic of the piece, building its self up and continually de-constructing before literally spiraling out of control with blasts of brass (I'm guessing it's Sweet Baboo's sax). But the real star of Mug Museum is a gorgeous duet with label-mate Perfume Genius ("I Think I Knew") which is definitely the best track I've heard in 2013. It gets better with each listen, so much so that I could happily listen to it ten times over and never get sick of it. Cate's gorgeous vocal is somehow outdone by Mike Hadreas' verses which ache with fractured soul and elevate the song to the echelons of all time classic duets. The other undoubted star of the show is the understated organ which typifies the album and also moulds it together. It's another effortlessly crafted record which flows with cool and calm, only to be punctuated by some clattering punk rock every now and then.

Something else...

Cate Le Bon
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Cate Le Bon
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Cate Le Bon
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