Cate Le Bon, Cyrk
Cate Le Bon is bringing a welcome breeze of ethereal vocals to our shore with her fresh, new album Cyrk. The U.K.-based singer-songwriter weaves a net of washed-out vocals and continually surfacing steady beats on her latest. The 10-track gem starts off with “Falcon Eyed,” in which bouncy guitar riffs encounter syncopated lyrics to create a sort of Belle & Sebastian-inspired sound. The constant synth and guitar becomes overbearing in some of the slower tracks, though (namely, “Puts Me to Work” and “Ploughing Out, Part 2”); while this is possibly intentional, it is unfortunate, since Le Bon’s strength lies in her voice, not the electro-soundscapes that provide the backdrop of her songs.
However, it is in tracks like “Cyrk” that she saves herself, because the vocals are buoyed by the instrumental track without having to cede complete control to it. “Through the Mill” is a song that takes its name seriously; the sounds themselves seem to have passed through something fantastic to reach us. And it’s not hard to imagine Le Bon’s lofty voice shrinking through the eye of a needle as the melody tumbles down a set of stairs from another world. The Control Group, Jan. 17 (Kelsey Leach)
The Big Pink, Future This
Future This scatters some satisfyingly hooky songs amongst many that fall well short of the few finer moments. The highlights are even in contrast: There’s “Give It Up,” an upbeat, lushly arranged piece, while “Jump Music” displays The Big Pink’s talent for intense and brooding electronica. Additionally, the first single, “Stay Gold,” is a solid album opener, successfully grabbing the listener’s attention without wasting any time.
Unfortunately, the surrounding tracks lack adequate chops. Excessively catchy tunes like “Rubbernecking” and “Hit the Ground (Superman)” fall in a murky middle ground between indie-electronica and mainstream pop. Without excelling in either direction, the songs come off as shallow and overly eager to please. The chorus on “Hit the Ground (Superman),” for example, could make a great ringtone or movie-commercial overdub, but the song doesn’t offer much besides a sound bite. When these imperfections appear, a skip button becomes a useful means to trim the fat from the prime cuts. 4AD, Jan. 17 (Jordan Wallis)