Cate Le Bon: Pompeii – album reviewCate Le Bon: Pompeii

Mexican Summer

Vinyl | Digital

Out now

The sixth album by Welsh songwriter and producer Cate Le Bon balances a lukewarm new wave sound against the intensity of emotion.

Starting with drumless and lulling intro Dirt On The Bed, the record sets the pace on the second track. Moderation is veiled in soft reverb, its subtle arrangement features cold-sounding synths, misty drums and saxophone, with singing-in–a-monastic-cell vocals. This seemingly detached sonic façade conceals undercurrents of intense feeling.

Although its title ostensibly refers to apocalyptic motives, musically this record suggests and intrigues more than the concept. An experienced producer, Cate Le Bon perfectly knows what she aims for in terms of sound.

Producer of the latest album by her Reykjavik-based friend and collaborator John Grant, Le Bon seems to draw inspiration from landscapes of similar alien quality. All songs are “aquatic”: the transparent sound texture conjures up scenes of deep-sea treasure hunting. Fittingly, French Boys evokes blurry images from documentaries by Jacques Cousteau.

Richly textured, the songs bring up a sense of nature-inspired synaesthesia. Bending synths on Pompeii summon wavering smoke, ascending in circular patterns up in the sky. With its beautifully unearthly sound, the title track sums up internal monologues, acknowledgement of one’s vulnerability, and finding a language to communicate feelings by other means than a face-to-face conversation. “I’ve pushed love through the hourglass / Did you see me putting pain in a stone?”. Even in a lifeless environment, the beating of one’s heart prevails.

Pompeii is available on Bandcamp and other platforms.

More information about Cate Le Bon on her official website and profiles – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.


All words by Irina Shtreis. More writing by Irina can be found in her author’s archive.

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