Cat Power : Sun
Chan Marshall’s ninth album experiments with a variety of different genres and then buffs them up to create some of her cleanest, most pop-oriented music, though it’s often at the expense of the lyrics.
3, 6, 9 gets by on its attitude, so you can forgive the clunky chorus “3, 6, 9/You drink wine/Monkey on your back/You feel just fine.” The bulk of Real Life is a shopping list of people who are of one profession, but wish they were doing another. Ruin is a strong single, but it’s mostly just reeling off place-names and, if it had a hashtag, it would be summed up by #firstworldproblems. There are a few questionable production choices too: Sun’s gimmick is Autotune, and Cherokee chucks in a hawks cry for good measure.
What nudges the album closer to the level of Cat Power’s past work is the quality of the final third of the album. Manhattan is a gorgeous, pared-back track that tracks along a simple piano-percussion composition and narrows the focus on Marshall’s beautiful voice. Silent Machine and Peace And Love have a steamy, rugged quality, and again prove that her simpler ideas work best.
“I want to love my way of living”, a lyric from the weary Always On My Own, is echoed later in the album’s eleven-minute opus Nothing But Time (“You want to live – my way of living”), with even old Iggy Pop stumbling in for the last few lines of the looping chorus. It’s an open letter to her ex’s teenage daughter, but could just as easily be a plea to Marshall’s younger self – also with a freshly cropped haircut, but yet to conquer her demons. Sun is a self-affirming paean to life and how to live it, but it’s lacking that magic touch that Marshall usually brings to proceedings.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Best Track: Manhattan
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