wed 30/09/2020

CD: Cate Le Bon - Crab Day | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Cate Le Bon - Crab Day

CD: Cate Le Bon - Crab Day

An art-rock winner from the now California-based Welsh maverick

Cate Le Bon's 'Crab Day': her finest album to date

Considering that it was recorded in North California, that she now lives in Los Angeles, that her musical co-conspirators include a member of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and that the album’s co-producer Noah Georgeson was behind a raft of Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom albums, Cate Le Bon’s Crab Day could sound American. It does not.

Considering that it was recorded in North California, that she now lives in Los Angeles, that her musical co-conspirators include a member of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and that the album’s co-producer Noah Georgeson was behind a raft of Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom albums, Cate Le Bon’s Crab Day could sound American. It does not. Her fourth album proper evokes the greatest mavericks of pre-punk British art rock: Kevin Ayers, the Brian Eno of Taking Tiger Mountain, Slapp Happy and Robert Wyatt all come to mind as its 10 songs unfold. So do the slightly later Art Bears and David Cunningham’s Flying Lizards.

Le Bon is, of course, Welsh and her direct inspirational jumping off points were the early Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. The last time she surfaced on album was in 2015 with the inconsequential and messy Hermits on Holiday, credited to DRINKS: a collaboration with Tim Presley. Crab Day is something else. It is also Le Bon’s finest album to date.

Once the initial jolt from hearing this splendid mélange wears off (it’s not entirely British: “We Might Revolve” features some very hot guitar mangling recalling the best work of former Voidoid and Lou Reed sideman Robert Quine) it’s quickly apparent that the entirely coherent Crab Day’s voice is its own. It’s just that the album is in this wonky art-rock tradition. Any track is as good as another and each song is a fully-formed gem, so singling out anything for special attention is iniquitous, but the jazzy, swooning “Love Is Not Love” is particularly lovely, and the glam rock-edged “I Was Born on the Wrong Day” has a sense of melody as sure as that of 1968 Paul McCartney. Crab Day is a winner.

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