Seriously, what is it with people using pianos at
the moment? Are we in the midst of some kind of a revolution here?
A wall-to-wall album of deep cuts which breath and
dance upon their own sadness. It’s electro-pop with a dollop of darkness, like
a sighing clown, Reward is another
defining album for Cate Le Bon.
It opens with ‘Miami’, a song about Miami… or my
army? I think the latter is more interesting but either way, its central theme
is love outweighed by reward, a theme which runs throughout on tracks ‘Daylight
Matters’ and ‘Sad Nudes’. Never boring or
arbitrary, it’s always hedging its bets and pushing the boundaries, soothingly paced and performed with its own
relaxing melodic merits. There is nothing conventional about Reward at all. Labels won’t suffice, there
is something else going on here, something that isn’t quite as it seems.
Le Bon moves past normality, to a point where there’s
just enough madness to make everything seem scarily unreal. A ‘normal’ place
called Paradise, with a home, a house and a street, in which in every corner of
a person’s teeth there is something darker, something behind the white enamel.
This is a world where every colour and emotion is a shade too bright, where
objects are concrete and cold, perfectly formed but imperfectly made, and life
itself is only mimicry.
On ‘Magnificent Gestures’, an abstract number, she
moves further outside of reality, moving beyond the walls of a room and finding well… she is nowhere at all. This is a place where a woman is
born without lips, surrendering herself to someone for affection before
realising that everything is finite after all and it will all come crashing down. Le Bon’s voice morphs in
experimental lapses to play with the imagery of a drip dripping, an unnerving
image for listeners. The mix includes low sax and synth chimes, the occasional
spray can, and a helping of ivory keys, whilst the guitar lines are always a
tad out of tune to keep it all on the verge of becoming nightmarish.
All in all it’s hard to make ‘space’ and ‘air’ in a record
whilst keeping it extremely well-constructed and balanced, but everything on
this LP is stuck together like paper-mâché, delicate but freestanding, Reward is a strange but beautiful LP of
standalone brilliance that’s warped and twisted. It’s an achievement to create and reflect in such a way as this, Le Bon is on incredible form, keep em coming!
Cate Le Bon on form, Music dancing on sadness, Wait and you will get