Kieran Anderson – Associate Editor
Rating: 3 stars
Chan Marshall is another lady who fell off of my musical radar for quite some time. Another lady whose comeback I have been waiting years for. When I heard that she was planning on releasing a new album of original material (the first in over six years) I was absolutely elated, over the moon even! But though Sun rises, it also sets. It’s setting on the Chan Marshall who we’ve known for years as being erratic, gloomy, and withdrawn just like her music. Sun offers a complete musical transformation for Marshall. I have a feeling many fans who are used to the lo-fi, grungy, guitar rock that Cat Power is known for are going to be quick to dismiss this album because it’s seemingly catering to hipster nonsense and will probably attract many caught up in the “hipster” fad. At first I was not digging it at all either, but if you dig a little deeper and experience the album without the idea of previous Cat Power material surging through your mind then I think you’ll be able to appreciate this for what it is… great music to adventure/settle in/fool around to!!!
Everything about Sun is absolutely bold. The direction, the instrumentation, and the lyrical content attributed to this album which was produced by Marshall and she played almost all the instruments on the album herself as well. The album itself is really hit or miss in my opinion as far as the songs go. Thankfully there are more hits than misses. “Real Life” and the title track “Sun” are both a little too 1999 era Madonna for my taste. Then again, a lot of people really thought that “Beautiful Stranger” was a righteous song back in 1999.
Some tracks from this album are sure to become singles and/or cult favorites among fans. The album’s leading single “Ruin” in which Chan just belts out a mouthful of obscure countries and cities in a delightfully catchy pace is sure to be ringing in the ears of fans for quite some time after hearing it. “Silent Machine” also really caught my attention. I’m almost positive that the song has been a staple in her live shows for years, but it has never actually been released. This revamped version bursts open with a sultry Black Keys-esque guitar riff that sets the tone for this absolutely incendiary song. Another gem from this album which I absolutely adore is 3, 6, 9. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that Jack White wrote this song himself. It’s just that bluesy and wonderful. Something that also intrigued me was the back of the actual album cover. It’s riddled with random hieroglyphics (the liner notes also have a poster-sized painting of the Sphinx on the back of them) and as I listened to the album I tried to figure out what the purpose of those Egyptian references were and it wasn’t until I heard “Almost On My Own” that I could feel the sexy mummy vibe. The song is absolutely simmering with Eastern music influences and it blends together perfectly with Chan’s smokey voice.
Overall, I enjoyed the album. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s my favorite Cat Power record, but it’s definitely an enjoyable listening experience and wonderful when you want to listen to Cat Power without feeling a little bit bummed out afterward. I hope that this album means that there will be more to come from Marshall in the near future and that she’s back on the music circuit for the long haul because the music world is aching for her presence and Sun is a sweet taste of what she has in store for us.