Cate Le Bon - 'Reward'

9/10

Since first emerging a decade ago with the release of her debut album 'Me Oh My', Welsh frontwoman Cate Le Bon has always looked to become as adventurous as possible with her music. And as she has grown in both age and experience, we are getting to see her take more risks with each passing release. And while her experimentation has never quite hit the mark as often as it should have, it certainly feels that she has found her sweet-spot as she returns with her fifth full-length 'Reward', a collection that perfectly couples experimental production and her own musical prowess.

Despite a glorious array of backing instrumentation on this new release, 'Reward' has this extremely sparse feel to it. Each track has this overlapped flurry of strings, brass and keys to it, and yet always comes across as a very minimal sound, showing that despite a huge focus on the record's general sound, it never feels too busy or overzealous. Instead the record moves with this humbled pace to it, sweeping and soaring in equal measure to create a warped and yet sometimes haunting new collection that both harnesses Cate's own musical direction and her need to deliver something that is uniquely her.

The result is quite possibly her best album to date. Rather than look back through her back catalogue for inspiration, 'Reward' definitely feels like the peak of her creative zenith so far. With each track keeping to a tight and cohesive path, the LP has this strong and succinct flow to it, making it a joy to listen to and showcasing the best in what she has to offer.

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