Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum (2013)

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Cate Le Bon was born in Penboyr, Wales and currently lives in Los Angeles. She sings in English and Welsh — a rarity, as less and less people speak Welsh as their mother tongue. The new generation actually speaks practically only English.

Le Bon, a celebrated star in her home country, is also known for her cooperation with fellow Welsh band Manic Street Preachers on their current album Rewind The Film — which finds Le Bon singing a duet with James Dean Bradfield.

Her music can be described as singer-songwriter mixed with psychedelia. You can hear influences of Marianne Faithfull, Nico and Syd Barrett. With her third album, Le Bon serves us an idiosyncratic and not easily digestible album. You have to bring the necessary patience, because Mug Museum needs more then one listening until it catches up with you. But let’s be honest: albums filled with catchy songs are actually pretty entertaining, but also easily forgettable. Mug Museum presents a good example of how an album can grow on you.

Digging it up after a few years, you can imagine this one would still be fascinating — as Mug Museum goes from light to dark, but remains snappy. Dry drumming and sharp guitars help the peppy song “No God” toward a real burst of energy. The subsequent “I Think I Knew” is presented with infinite sadness. Le Bon loves to play with contrasts, from exhilarated to sorrowful.

Le Bon is supported on the album by H. Hawkline on guitar and Stephen Black on bass, both of whom provide solid support for her expressive voice and dark lyrics Le Bon herself describes the relationship with her music and lyrics as a “abnormal fixation with death,” but that does not mean that there are no sunny and bright moments on Mug Museum. “Duke” and the title song are particularly compelling emotional pieces that stand out due to their lightness and stunningly beautiful melodies.

You have to bring a good deal of openness to dive into this project, as Le Bon’s certainly not to everyone’s taste — but patience is well rewarded in this case.

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Mike Dostert

Mike Dostert

Luxembourg resident Mike Dostert has written about music for more than two decades, with work appearing in a local newspaper, via his own independent music magazine and at the web sites www.music-brain.com and lux-culture.jimdo.com. He has also worked for 20 years as a DJ and radio host. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mike Dostert
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