Consisting of the five recorded tracks that didn’t make it on to Cate Le Bon’s second critically acclaimed album, CYRK, the folk songstress’s new EP, CYRK II, is like the island of misfit songs. CYRK II moves at its own slower pace. A sound that is totally stripped down, there’s less clatter, pop and fuzz than what was heard on the original 10-track offering. While the EP basks in its simplicity, the Welsh artist’s luring voice and heavier lyrics give it a much-needed heaviness. Wistful and tender in nature but sharp and raw in content, it’s a bundle of contradictions and jagged lullabies.
Dreamy opening track “What Is Worse” bobs in and out of beautiful highs and impressive lows. With easy guitar and dynamic vocals, there is a richness in the song’s sound that makes you feel the very opposite of Le Bon’s lyrics about “feeling the cold.” “What Is Worse” flows into “The Eiggy Sea,” a quirky melodic gem that lets Le Bon flaunt her range in a very nonchalant way. The psych-rock song is at its best three-quarters through as her voice floats higher and higher until it all comes crashing down with an intense guitar solo.
When things start to pick up, lackadaisical “That Moon” makes sure to bring the mood down a notch or two. However, in Le Bon’s case, this is a great thing. As she croons, “Will we ever see that moon again?”, listening to music has never been so easy. With the accentuating piano and pretty ascending woo-oos, the song just soothes. “Seaside, Lowtide” is the most melancholy tune on the album. It begins with Le Bon’s whisper “Goodnight, goodbye” as she tells a story about her man leaving her and the tears that came after. With its bluesy rhythm and shredding guitar, the track tumbles with emotion.
Amongst the bits of fuzz and a lot of intense psychedelic guitar noodling, Le Bon keeps pulling at your heartstrings as a quiet “January” brings CYRK II to a delicate and drawn-out close. A serious song that requires tons of gusto (and breath support) to pull off, Le Bon loses her whimsical tone and finally steps out as a powerful vocalist.