Cate Le Bon will release her new solo album, Reward, on May 24th via her new label, Mexican Summer. Reward is the follow-up to last year’s DRINKS release “Hippo Lite” (her collaboration with Tim Presley), and is her first full length since 2016’s Crab Day. Alongside the announce, she shares the gently wrought first single “Daylight Matters”, an appreciation of the pleasures of self-pity rather than a straightforward love song.
It was on a mountainside in Cumbria that the first whispers of Cate Le Bon’s fifth studio album poked their buds above the earth. “There’s a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night,” she says, recounting the year living solitarily in the Lakes District of the U.K which gave way to Reward. By day, ever the polymath, Le Bon painstakingly learnt to make solid wood tables, stools and chairs from scratch; by night she looked to a second-hand Meers — the first piano she had ever owned — for company, “windows closed to absolutely everyone”, and accidentally poured her heart out.
The multifaceted nature of Le Bon’s art — its ability to take on multiple meanings and hold motivations which are not immediately obvious — is evident right down to the album’s very name. “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.” The record, then, signals a scrambling to hold onto meaning; it is a warning against lazy comparisons and face values. It is a sentiment nicely summed up through her woodwork: “Always keep your hand behind the chisel.”
Reward’s ten songs were conceived alone at a piano, which remains evident by the feeling of closeness that they convey. Although eventually recorded across America and the UK, and roping in a rollcall of trusted collaborators (including Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, H.Hawkline andSamur Khouja, who co-produced the album with Le Bon), Reward miraculously maintains its sense of privacy and intimacy throughout. This stems directly from Le Bon herself and the inimitable way in which she works, all of which preserves a signature sound despite relatively drastic changes in approach. The result is an album every bit as stylistically varied, surrealistically-inclined and tactile as those in the enduring outsider’s back catalogue, but one that is also intensely introspective, profound and significantly her most personal to date.
Additionally, Cate Le Bon will be returning to the US for summer tour dates, including a previously announced appearance at Pitchfork Music Festival. Tickets for newly-announced dates are on sale Friday, March 22nd. All tour dates are listed below.