Unhitching the folk bridle
i>By Mark Jenkins
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
French-surnamed Cate Le Bon sings in English on her new album, "Cyrk," whose title is the Polish word for "circus." But the sensibility of these 10 trippy songs could only be Welsh. Le Bon has collaborated with members of Super Furry Animals and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and her new album emulates those bands' West Coast (of Britain) sound.
"Cyrk" follows a Welsh-language EP and an English album, "Me Oh My," that were mostly hushed and folky. Le Bon quickly banishes memories of those recordings with "Falcon Eyed," which boasts a garage-rock strut and psychedelic guitar flurries. Like most of these tunes, "Falcon Eyed" includes passages that recall traditional British ballads, delivered in a pure and often multi-tracked voice. Yet gentle melodies are just one element in numbers such as "Fold the Cloth," which regularly launch into unexpected sonic territory.
At her chilliest, Le Bon can sound like Nico, and brooding songs such as "The Man I Wanted" suggest that singer's dirges. Le Bon's new material rarely stays in the same mode for long, however, and her current band assures that this album is livelier than its predecessor. Even at its most introspective, "Cyrk" is always just one tempo change away from a rave-up.