Song of the Day: Cate Le Bon - What Is Worse

photo by Renata Steiner

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “What Is Worse” by Cate Le Bon from the 2012 EP Cyrk II on The Control Group.

Cate Le Bon - What Is Worse (MP3)

Cardiff, Wales, songwriter Cate Le Bon wrote her first songs about her unusually high number of dead pets, which although morbid, was the catalyst for Le Bon’s first break, scoring her a gig opening for Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys on a 2007 solo tour. Soon after, Le Bon joined Rhys for his Neon Neon project and another Super Furry Animals tour, but after spending 2011 working on new solo material, she’s back to her day job (or at least until Gruff Rhys calls her with another project.) The opening track on Cyrk II, an EP of songs that didn’t make the cut for Le Bon’s second LP, Cyrk, “What Is Worse” is a mid-tempo march that puts Le Bon’s voice front and center to deliver her sharp lyrics. Sometimes backed with little more than a guitar, Le Bon’s cool vocal delivery belies the song’s lyrical content, as she sings lines like “and they tell me I am so cruel/for I have no plans to settle down” with a balance of icy detachment and warm empathy. When the song’s raw instrumentation does increase its volume, it still never overtakes Le Bon’s presence, which is a tribute to her arrangement sensibilities as well as her songwriting.

Cate Le Bon finished a leg of the tour behind Cyrk II earlier this month, but if she decides to come back, you’ll read about it first on her website and Facebook. Watch the video for the Cyrk cut “Puts Me To Work” below.

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