A breath of fresh air for indie pop
With more than 10 years in the industry, Cate Le Bon returns to the indie music scene with her newly released album, Pompeii, after her past successful releases in 2013 and 2019 respectively. Refining her craft further, the Welsh singer’s musical works dive deeply into a variety of genres by intertwining differing musical elements into each track. Le Bon in particular is able to encapsulate feelings of nostalgia and longing, while also having more easy-listening tunes that seem reminiscent of the 2018 niche “bedroom pop” era at the same time.
All of the tracks on Pompeii are very unique, even contrasting with each other in sound and instrumentation. Some elements of songs feel like a new wave of bedroom pop indie music that reached its height around 2017 or 2018. Such tracks feature light guitar, simplistic lyrics and a catchy, easy-to-listen-to chorus. For example, “Harbour” features the use of a soft drum mostly carried by electric guitar and light synth. The vocals in this song are also freeing and almost sound echoey in parts. This use of echoing appears throughout the entire album and helps add to the weight of the words that Le Bon is saying.
Pompeii particularly excels in its use of text painting: an element in music where the lyrics and score are written to parallel each other in order to enhance the meaning. For example, contrasting from “Harbour,” the track “Cry Me Old Trouble” features heavier use of guitar and has lyrics that match the intensity of the song and the structure behind the piece. The first set of lyrics in this song describes the heavy feelings of regret that are present throughout, the first verse reading, “I was born guilty as sin, To a mother guilty as hell, That’ll teach us for sniffing dirt, New hats for the old hurt.” Words like “Hurt,” and, later in the piece, “Weight,” are brought out in the phrases by the melodic line. These simplistic yet effective uses of text painting help make Le Bon’s songs stick out from the pack and continue to be in your head hours after listening.
Currently, her most popular track from the album is “Moderation.” It is easy to see how it already has over 600,000 listens on Spotify in only a few weeks of release. This track features the typical bedroom pop motifs including light guitar and synth lines, light and simplistic lyrics as well as harmonies that are often up or down a 3rd from the main melody line. This harmonic technique is often common in indie pop music, however, in this instance it works perfectly, adding to the catchiness of the tune itself. It is no wonder that as of right now, “Moderation” is the standout track of the album.
Overall, Le Bon’s masterful work in combining different aspects of musical genres and utilization of text painting and lyricism makes her newest album, Pompeii, a standout album for this year in the indie genre. With Le Bon’s unique implementation of different musical styles throughout her years of creating music, she continues to be a force to be reckoned with after another meticulously crafted album.