AlmostAGhost Review: Cate Le Bon – Cyrk (2012)

a gentle gentle shift sent all intents adrift

I wanted to mention Cyrk here, because it is a really cool album, that I keep enjoying more and more with each listen. I read somewhere that “cyrk” is the Polish word for “circus,” so I got to thinking about that in relation to the music. I guess it is a sort of apt title, for a couple of reasons. The songs have a touch of familiarity to them, but lying just underneath are some unique twists. Sort of like a circus perhaps? Cozy and familiar, but with slightly bizarre happenings. For example, “Greta” here:

Cate Le Bon “Greta”

As you can hear, there is nothing blindly original about it, as Le Bon purrs over a light electro pulse. But by the end, the song had mutated into a jazz beat. That may not be a totally unique idea either, but together? I love these odd little songwriting twists that show up throughout Le Bon’s music.

Similarly, much of the time I have no idea what Le Bon is singing about. Her voice is good, and clear, but the way she sings (perhaps her Welsh accent too?) makes much of the lyrics incomprehensible to me–sometimes phrases pop up here (“fold the cloth or cut the cloth” she wonders on “Fold The Cloth”) and there but overall, there’s some distance to that part of her songs. But this distance ends up putting that much more focus on the music’s subtle twists, so it works and I don’t mind.

The other note I had about the circus is the ’60s synth carnival vibe throughout. And I don’t mean that her songs are on some circus gimmick like “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite” or something. It’s much more subtle than that. You can hear it underlying songs like “Puts Me To Work”:

Cate Le Bon “Puts Me To Work”

Anyway, the ’60s vibe runs throughout Cyrk. It is a clever work I think, in how Le Bon finds her way comfortably into a spot combining warmth/familiarity and experimental/distance. It may not make a huge mark on anyone, but it does impress. Like a circus.

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