Cate Le Bon: The Wondrous, Weird, and Whimsical
It takes a lot to be unique. To be different, you can't just imitate what someone has already done. You have to really think about what you could do to make something new again, something that is all yours. Uniqueness is a big part of music; it separates the unforgettable from the forgettable, and it is vital in the growth of music itself. A few musicians follow trends with little variation, which leads to them ultimately not being remembered. For example, think about all of the popular songs and musicians you hear that just come and go in a matter of weeks on the radio. Of course, the music world isn't just filled with un-originals; some musicians dig deep inside their minds to come up with something the world has never heard before. One of the most notable examples of these musicians is Cate Le Bon. Over the past decade, she has taken her sound and twisted and turned it around in every which way to create many sounds that all are amazingly different.
Some of the most amazing things in Le Bon's music are her voice and lyrics. Her voice is whimsical and ghostly but can be deep and gloomy as well. Every song she writes contains the most extraordinary lyrics. They are weird in the best way possible; it's crazy how many strange images and visions the lyrics carry into the mind. Le Bon's debut album, 2009's Me Oh My, features these staples but sounds differently from her later albums. Me Oh My bears a more folky and soft sound overall, but it is very welcome! Overall, the album was a good starting point for the evolution of her music. Her next album, 2012's Cyrk, introduced the more rock-oriented sound that stays for the next few albums - including 2013's Mug Museum. Right away, you'll notice that Le Bon's Telecaster guitar stands out just as much as she does. All throughout the album, her guitar cuts through everything every time she plays, creating a very distinct sound. With her jumpy, prominent riffs combined with her voice and lyrics, Le Bon is making it obvious that this is HER music. The album features all-around amazing songs, such as "Are You With Me Now?" and "Wild", that show what Cate Le Bon is all about. If anyone wasn't convinced of Le Bon's artistic genius and originality up to this point, this album would be the one to finally push them over the edge. 2016's Crab Day builds on the sound that made up Mug Museum. All throughout the album are little bits and pieces of what was Mug Museum spread out into something shiny, new, and a lot louder! Crab Day adds plenty of horns and woodwinds, full and punchy drums, and the most crazily amazing lyrics yet; just one listen of "Wonderful" makes that obvious. Although the last two albums were masterpieces in their own right, Cate Le Bon didn't want to settle with the same thing - she never does, that's what makes her so great. It comes with no surprise for me to tell you that Le Bon's most recent studio album, 2019's Reward, takes everything that the previous albums had, flips it upside-down, twists it all over the place, and creates a whole new thing entirely. Le Bon had about a decade of experience with recording music at this point, and it definitely shows. The amount of depth and feeling not only in the words but in the sound as well is astonishing. The mystic, mysterious, chaotic, and smooth sounds within the album make the listener feel like they're diving straight into Le Bon's mind. Even though the familiar Telecaster sound, that was ever so present in the last two albums, is gone, it doesn't matter at all. Cate Le Bon has created so many wonder-filled songs with their own new sounds for Reward that it's hard to wish the old sounds were back. This originality, and the drive to keep inventing and innovating, is what makes Cate Le Bon such a musical mastermind. Instead of simply following trends, Le Bon digs deep inside her mind and pulls out these new and unique sounds. To simply put it, Cate Le Bon is a bona fide genius; its as simple as that.
Not too many musicians come to mind that match Cate Le Bon's level of creativity and originality. Every album is different in its own way and good in its own way. From the mellow but powerful Me Oh My to Reward's beautiful projection of Le Bon's mind, every album has room to stand out on its own. Instead of the most current album replacing the rest in terms of relevance, every album holds independence from the others, like paintings in a museum. Sure all of the paintings are wildly different, but they all reside under the same roof. Her style is something only she could possess, and her lyrics are something only she could write. Cate Le Bon is an artist in every sense of the word.
-No amount of writing does her music justice though, so go listen to her-