Cate Le Bon: ‘Sisters’ (Single review)

Our chief music man, Jonathan O’Shea, has been busy taking in the new sounds recently. This time he turns his attention to folky Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon’s latest release ‘Sisters.’

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An ever-more sleek and sinuous stage presence, Welsh troubadour-ess Cate Le Bon returned from a recent US sojourn with a new look and refined sound; evidenced on her third album, ‘Mug Museum’, where the beguiling ‘Me Oh My’ ploughed fertile folksy terrain and ‘Cyrk’ took a tender step towards a new direction. Released on the Wichita label – this was a tighter, more coherent set.

‘Sisters’ is both recognisably inventive and comfortingly strange, but Le Bon’s signature sound has certainly matured and is more satisfyingly direct here. Her renowned vocals – often erroneously likened to those of the Velvet Underground’s Nico – are as sumptuously enunciated and dexterously delivered as ever, while H. Hawkline’s frantic, insistent keys drive the track through to a thrillingly demented climax.

‘I won’t die, I’m a sister; I won’t die!’ is the immortal resolution declared throughout, as Manics collaborator Le Bon laconically unfurls lines like: ‘She will set my hands on fire/ hands on fire over again/ her to me and me to them’.

That swirly, hooky keyboard input and a punchy, pulsing drumbeat underpins four minutes of delightfully off-kilter lyricism from the pencil of an underrated songwriter.

Stepping out of the shadows: Cate Le Bon is destined for big things.
Stepping out of the shadows: Cate Le Bon is destined for big things.

All the while, it’s impossible not to consider the influence of one-time tour-mate St Vincent on this ascendant ‘alternative’ star-in-the-making, as she journeys from her early career of melancholic folk meanderings to today’s peppy psych-pop gems.

‘Ah-ooh’-ing all over the crazily kaleidoscopic outro in typical fashion, Cate Le Bon presents a fully-formed potential hit, which could raise her profile far above and beyond her sterling work with the Manics and Welsh alt-doyen Gruff Rhys. It’s an attention-grabbing paean to sisterhood, which should insinuate itself into any self-respecting indie summer playlist.

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Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

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