Crab Day is the fourth record in Cate Le Bon’s arsenal and the very first I’ve heard. It appeared on a few best of lists this year so i sought it out on youtube and found a beautiful video for the album produced by the loved/hated public figure Phil Collins. The film is ten minutes long and features a few songs from the record but draws mostly from Crab Day’s final track, “What’s Not Mine” sans any of Le Bon’s vocals. I won’t comment on any of the content of the video except to say that it is a good introduction to the world of Crab Day – a dizzying, colorful, squeaky, squelchy, wiggly place. Crab Day, to me, sounds like how that old board game Mouse Trap looks – there are colorful plastic traps and gadgets whizzing away and falling down. Bright blue slides and a strange red bathtub propped into the air?? Like Mouse Trap, there is a sense you are being held within Le Bon’s preparation, being manipulated by her mechanical, pulsing moves. Crab Day is concerned very much with the body, our feelings of being trapped and then desiring to be released.
It’s a very thin, dry record instrumented with VERY bare drum kit, dueling guitars, electric bass, pianos, synthesizers, marimba, organs, twinkly bells. To call the album Pop wouldn’t be very far off but it wouldn’t be including all of what I see as being offered here. While some songs are driven by Le Bon’s vocal melodies and stay on the rails in terms of what we expect from pop structures, even if the arrangement’s a bit wonky, other songs feel much more like experiments in primitive repetition and futurist tone then they are about what is catchy or particularly beautiful.
But perhaps the most stand out element of the entire enterprise is the way Le Bon has chosen to produce the guitars – often bare and honking in arrangement while thin and saturated in tone, it’s really unique stuff. Fun! It pleases that retro spot that everyone seems to need itching time and time again. I like the playful synthesizer and organ and I think they do a lot in making the album sound full and especially strange. Of course, Le Bon’s vocals are a treat – her Welsh accent is quite beautiful and refreshing to listen to. I love hearing her over-enunciating and under-playing her surreal musings on the past, her natural surroundings, colors, love. Crab Day feels new. Crab day feels plastic. Crab Day feels genuine.
Favorites: “What’s Not Mine”, “Love Is Not Love”, “I’m A Dirty Attic”, “We Might Revolve”