“(…) if Cat Power does indeed have seven lives, they’re all present in this album which strikes by how eclectic it is (…).”
Cat Power – Sun (2012) 9.5/10
As we mentioned earlier last week in our feature looking back on Cat Power’s prolific career, her 9th studio album Sun is being streamed on the internet and will be out very, very soon. Having grown from a Nirvana sound-alike to a raspy voiced folk singer, Chan Marshall now proves that 17 years is no expiration date, and moreover that her musical talent is very much like wine. And a magical wine at that which would not only grow more palatable with time but would also adapt perfectly to new times, all the while preserving its integrity – a metaphor some the Madonnas of this world should be wise to ponder over. Thus the Cat Power vintage of 2012 is gracefully in synch with the electronic influence that has been washing over music for the past few years – not so shocking once you know the LP was mixed by Cassius’ Philippe Zdar. Sun features the trademark vocals of the songstress in all their delicate potency, old school echoing electric guitars, tambourines and pianos but Marshall’s own voice is at times electronically distorted (“3,6,9”) and classic drums are set aside in favor of computerized pops and handclaps (“Manhattan”). However that’s not the only defining feature of this much awaited LP: if Cat Power does indeed have 7 lives, they’re all present in this album which strikes by how eclectic it is – and that you’ll consequently be able to listen to for 7 lives.
The album opens with the pre-released “Cherokee” which already seduces the ear thanks to old transistor like distorted lead vocals rendering Marshall’s voice somewhat manly – in a sensual way. The song grows into a layer cake of rhythmic elements and voices overlapping one another – the rumbling drums announcing each chorus and the hand clapped rhythm are much appreciate and are the first hints of how modern this LP is. The extremely punchy intro to the second and eponymous track drives that point home with futuristic synth notes gliding in the background. Marshall’s voice multiplies into a full-fledged chorus accompanied by a dry light beat and the ever-present rock guitar conveying her trademark bellicose attitude and all once a clear sense that Cat Power is fueled by something more electronic than she used to. “Ruin” as a pre-release is a case in point of the songstresses’ wide-ranging music influences mentioned previously. With a rhythmic piano and dry drums the track opens like a bossa nova tune contrasting like no other track with Cat Power’s earlier work. It does so even more thanks to upbeat lyrics, which put aside the artists’ brand melancholy and take you on road trip across the world – reaching a gallop as the chorus breaks out. The bridge will get you dancing with an extremely punchy beat (I’m getting a whiff of potential remix) and the only regret one might have is the fade away ending that seems like somewhat of a let-down after such a captivating song.
“3,6,9” opens with drums reminiscent of the White Stripes but is more noticeable for the electronically distorted lead vocals – a huge step taken from the nineties rugged guitar and voice. There’s something of a paradoxical nursery rhyme in this song with the repeated lyrics that however tell of drug addiction and abuse – “ 3,6,9 You drink wine / Money on your back / You feel just fine.” The track “Manhattan” also deserves a special mention with a Chairlift like snare drum beat and echoing piano chords bringing out Marshall’s entrancing voice in an upbeat fast-paced song. “Silent Machine” turns on the rock’n’roll switch with a modern twist before letting U2 vibes seep in with “Nothing But Time” and Cat Power demonstrates the extent of the second part of her moniker making a final pugnacious clash in “Peace and Love”.