Cate Le Bon is often compared to Nico of Velvet Underground fame, but she really deserves her own berth in the pop-music canon. Her voice hypnotizes in its own way, weaving bits of the Welsh language into pithy poetry about fading memories.
There is a sleek Mod vibe to Mug Music, but it doesn't sound derivative. Instead, it reflects how Le Bon is spelunking her way through history. Even the most mundane objects, like the coffee cup she observes in the title track, are reminders that the past is gone, never to return. This conclusion isn't rocket science, but the details that accompany it are striking. With warm vocals and sunny piano chords, she notes the abstract contentment that lingers after recalling a pleasant moment with a loved one who has died.
Album opener "I Can't Help You" features guitar work that seems like a cross between a cut from Television's Marquee Moon and a late-'90s Belle & Sebastian tune. Le Bon marries these two sounds wonderfully, making dreamy sighs out of some notes and edgy laments out of others.