It’s possible that you haven’t yet heard of any work from Cate Le Bon, nor even heard of her, for that matter, as this is only her sophomore effort from her and her backing band. Some things you should know before we proceed: Yes that is a Welsh accent. Yes, Le Bon’s debut EP was a Welsh language release. Yes, her voice is exquisitely interesting. No, it is not the only thing worth talking about on CYRK.
Le Bon wastes no time what-so-ever in jumping straight into the jams. Forget intro tracks or minute long build-ups, “Falcon-Eyed” is everything, all at once without so much as a few seconds notice. It is roaring first track, quick and snappy in nature, filled with Le Bon’s swirling vocals, paired with racing drum beats and jangling, fast paced guitars. It comes across as one of the most ‘rock’ songs on this album, when viewed along with the others, and it leaves you thirsty for more when the two minutes and forty-nine seconds comes to a close.
Although the Speed Racer pace isn’t held for the next song, the slower, cooled “Puts Me To Work,” highlights the vocals as well as the instrumentation, while setting a more appropriate pace for the rest of the album. The smooth vocals combine with twang-y guitars to bring each element to a happy medium, while the drums and keys fill in the spaces. This continues to the title track, which spirals and twirls in an eerie fashion along to a methodic beat, which essentially carries through for the duration of the album; it’s easy to find yourself twirling along with Le Bon, lost in her ironically dreary lyrics in respect to her airy vocals.
Sure, the first thing that you will notice upon listening to CYRK is the vocals. When Le Bon strikes the opening notes, you are instantly drawn into whatever she is singing; her eerily bleak voice carrying the rhythm resides in the background. I mean, on first listen, you could really care less what is going on behind that enigma of sound. You are so focused on the oddly tender yet fierce voice that it’s easy to let the rest of the music just sort of fade away in your entranced state. While it is easy, and also sort of the point of this release, to be daunted by Cate Le Bon, give this album two listens; one to marvel at the vocals and another to appreciate the instruments backing them. What you’ll find is something darker than the whimsical vocals convey on the surface level, something distorted and fanciful, akin to the title’s translation of “circus posters.”