Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum
You’d be forgiven for thinking Wales a sunny place, hearing Cate Le Bon’s third jaunty, psychedelic record Mug Museum. Wales isn't, of course, but its musical output’s pretty sun-soaked (look at pals Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci or Super Furry Animals); this LP’s no exception. Much like the Welsh themselves, though, there’s a charming stoicism here, a maturity beneath the folk-pop, and a darker turn since 2012’s CYRK.
From the off we’re assaulted with cheeriness, tickling boardwalk organ here and cosily strummed guitar there, all belying Le Bon’s moodier lyrics. But when the album’s volta, Wild, excavates some darker fuzz, we're taken deeper into antsy gloom. Her whimsy teeters into weirdness on Mirror Me, a lonely sax spiralling over the mantra-like refrain; Cuckoo Through The Walls unravels with a similar thumping madness. The emerging chaos risks muddying her message, but instead bolsters it; like dappled shadows cast by clouds against the sun, a beguiling melancholy. [George Sully]