Welsh songwriter Cate Le Bon's distinctive voice and smart arrangements manifested as a dark, looming take on psychedelic pop over the course of multiple critically acclaimed solo albums, side projects, and production for others. Though earlier albums had hints of a folk influence, her spindly guitar leads often stole the show, tending toward more distorted and demented forms. Released in 2013, Mug Museum came after a move to Los Angeles, and boasted some of Le Bon's clearest, most engaging songcraft, as well as a guest appearance from Perfume Genius. Along with her active solo career, Le Bon began collaborating with fellow warped pop purveyor Tim Presley in a side project called DRINKS, as well as taking a producer role for indie royalty like Eleanor Friedberger and Deerhunter.
Cate Le Bon grew up in Carmarthenshire, a rural town in West Wales. In 2007, she opened for Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys, with whom she occasionally collaborated, during a tour of the U.K. That same year, she self-released her first single, "No One Can Drag Me Down"/"Disappear," and recorded an album, Pet Deaths, which was shelved. Edrych yn Llygaid Ceffyl Benthyg, a Welsh-language EP, was issued on Peski in 2008, the same year she contributed vocals to "I Lust U," a song from Rhys and Bryan Hollon's Neon Neon album Stainless Style. Me Oh My, Le Bon's first properly released full-length, came out on Rhys' Irony Bored label in 2009 and was hotly tipped by Uncut magazine. Her sophomore release, Cyrk, which paired the spooky, folk-tinged timbre of Nico with the experimental, Nuggets-meets-Krautrock attack of Os Mutantes and Faust, arrived in early 2012.
Along with steady recording of her own work, Le Bon continued collaboration and production work, acting as producer for new solo music for Alex Dingley, H. Hawkline, and Josiah Steinbrick, remixing Eleanor Friedberger's 2018 track "Are We Good?," and working extensively with Deerhunter on their seventh studio album, Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared?, released in January 2019. A new volume of Le Bon's solo music followed not far behind with fifth album Reward, released in May 2019. The LP was recorded with a cast of familiar collaborators, including drummer Stella Mozgawa from Warpaint and guitarists Josh Klinghoffer and Huw Evans. The album marked a turn towards more personal subject matter than Le Bon's often opaque earlier material. Late that year, a collaborative EP release between Le Bon and Deerhunter's Bradford Cox was issued as part of Mexican Summer's "Myths" series. The wily and experimental Myths 004 was largely recorded by the two artists in Marfa, Texas, when they were there for a festival. ~ Andy Kellman & Fred Thomas