In 2012, indie lo-fi folk artist Cat Power stunned her fans with an album that was more upbeat than anything she had ever done – by far! Nowhere in her 8 previous albums could we have detected any sign that the artist also known as Chan Marshall would do such a bold move. And the response was very positive, reaching a new crowd, while still being true to her dark emotions.

Yes, songs like Ruin with its lively piano, disco beat and funky guitar sound like Feist’s happy moments, but the 40 year-old musician from Atlanta wasn’t necessarily happier. Lyrics, although not the main focus on the album, show a different mindset than what is expected with the lively music of “Sun”.

I feel, I feel tired, awake all night
Head so heavy like a wastebasket
I feel a choke, emotionally broke
Here on my belly in the still of the night
I feel alone

Marshall has been struggling with alcohol problems in previous years. Reports of her mumbling on stage, forgetting her own lyrics while playing live were regularly pointed out in concert reviews. You’d never know what to expect from a Cat Power show. With the tour following the release of “Sun”, she appeared more dynamic, dancing on stage, as she was teamed up with pro musicians that would start the music when things were getting out of hand. Not all things were solved….

To go back to the album, “Sun” is a very enjoyable collection of 11 songs. The first part of packed with indie pop hits like 3,6,9 (on which she even uses that damn autotune machine) Cherokee, and the title track Sun. We’re all going, ‘wow, what a great album!’ It sounded like Metric, Feist and Florence + the Machine blended together. Marshall’s thin but beautiful voice was double, triple and even quadruple tracked to create a super pop buzz.

But things darkened right after these 4 songs. The electronic feel (new for a Cat Power record) was still the main element but the beats were slower, and the melodies darker. Real Life is all about not leading the life one wants to live, and trying to get away from it. Other songs like Human Being invites listeners to go ahead be themselves, with glimpses of people being shot in their own street. It’s a bit confusing, and certainly not a happy song. So maybe Cat Power gained the attention of more mainstream (or indie pop) crowd for 20 minutes with the first 4 songs of “Sun”, but shortly after, she was back down in her (usual) dark mood.

We haven’t heard from Cat Power since 2012’s “Sun”. It will be interesting to see where we’ll find the artist next time she re-emerges from her silence.

(Matador, 2012)

-Genre: indie pop
-In the same genre than Feist, Lykke Li

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About The Author

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie "Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique" en 2013, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.