Cate Le Bon settles into her pleasant weirdness on Reward | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Music » Concert Preview

Cate Le Bon settles into her pleasant weirdness on Reward

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

Cate Le Bon makes pleasant weirdo pop music. It’s not so experimental that you couldn’t imagine it on mainstream radio, and in fact her songs have been used in TV shows, including the award-winning comedy-drama Transparent and the British rich-kid reality show Made in Chelsea. Le Bon’s lyrics come across like they’re borrowed from poems jotted in the journal of a highly sensitive person—if that person had died and come back to haunt their hometown. On “Daylight Matters,” the first single from her May 2019 album, Reward (Mexican Summer), Le Bon sings, “Why do they stick when your lips read like stone? / Mouthing the lines, returning the air / And I’m never gonna feel them again.” Reward is an album full of these ghostly lines, punctuated by newly lush but ultimately true-to-Le Bon arrangements with piano-based melodies; none of its songs are over-the-top dazzling, but it’s still worth a listen. Though the stark “Miami” gave me pause during my first few plays—especially the strong Welsh accent in Le Bon’s repeated pronunciation of the title—what finally sold me was its keyboard runs, along with the wistful lines “Falling skies that people uphold / Move with me / Love neglected by reward, OK.” By contrast, Le Bon’s 2013 album, Mug Museum, stepped into stranger and angrier moments, such as the organ-led dirge “Mirror Me” and the Velvet Underground-inspired heartbreaker “I Think I Knew.” The latter is a duet with fellow indie weirdo Perfume Genius (aka Mike Hadreas), the kind of collaboration that shows Le Bon at her best—and thankfully she does it again on the Reward track “Magnificent Gestures,” which features guest vocalist Kurt Vile and Le Bon's voice settling into its full odd-bird potential. Though her Constellation show is sold out, fans can also catch Le Bon at the Pitchfork Music Festival on July 20, where, with any luck, the spirit of the occasion will inspire her to fully feel out her most outre leanings.   v

Add a comment