Cate Le Bon: Crab Day | Virgin Media
Cate Le Bon: Crab Day

Cate Le Bon: Crab DayAlbum review by Rhian Daly | Rating: ★★★★☆

15/04/2016

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It's hard to imagine Cate Le Bon ever denying her the option to be spontaneous and playful. Her records are wormholes to weird worlds where language is malleable and often warped, and instruments make unusual, unpredictable music.

But apparently it took last year's collaboration with White Fence's Tim Presley (under the moniker Drinks) for LA-based Le Bon to really let go. "The process of doing Drinks was instrumental to Crab Day sounding the way it sounds. Everything was considered on the record but also everything was permitted, allowing ourselves to be spontaneous if it felt right," she told LA Weekly earlier this year.

For this album, her fourth, the Welsh musician assembled a backing band known as BANANA. It features the likes of Warpaint's Stella Mozgawa, Josiah Steinbrick (the producer of Le Bon's third record Mug Museum), Red Hot Chili Peppers' Josh Klinghoffer, and her fellow countrymen Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) and Huw Evans (H Hawkline). Where Mug Museum thrummed with the wiry sounds of The Velvet Underground, Crab Day is more softly psychedelic – not a full-on kaleidoscope, but a lush, gauzy spectrum instead; more Syd Barrett than Lou Reed.

Zayn: Mind Of Mine

The record takes its title from a made-up holiday, Le Bon's niece's alternative to April Fool's Day. On the title track, which kicks off the album, she sings, "Sing your heart to me on Crab Day/Put your love in me on Crab Day". Much of the rest of the record is concerned with love and relationships, too, and figuring them out.

Love Is Not Love has Le Bon puzzling, "Love is not love/When it's a coat hanger, borrowed line or passenger". Later, she admits, "I don't know how to love you" over slow piano stabs and spidery guitars. On I'm A Dirty Attic, she questions the state of lust or hunting for romance: "What's so good about hungry hearts?"

The thing that makes Le Bon unique is her way with words. On I'm A Dirty Attic she asks someone to "take a golden hair and draw me a sky". The whirligig dizziness of We Might Revolve finds her riddling, "I wasn't even in my room without reason". And that's what Le Bon's songs are – riddles that you can try and crack, but it's nigh on impossible to work out if your solution is the right one. Like the old cliché says, it's all about the journey, not the destination, and merely having the opportunity to try and solve the puzzles Crab Day offers up is most of the fun. 

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