It was obvious the minute her single “Ruin” dropped back in June, that Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power), had something different in store with her long-awaited album Sun. “Ruin” abandoned the bluesy melancholy of Marshall’s previous work in favor of a strident piano riff and clamoring percussion.
Sun follows suit, offering Marshall’s most sonically ambitious and uplifting material yet.
With its optimistic title and up-tempo tendencies, Sun is apt to get painted as a “happy” album, but make no mistake: Cat Power’s signature darkness still simmers below Sun’s effervescent surface. On the title track, Marshall echoes George Harrison’s famous tune with the phrase “Here comes the sun,” but now it’s a musical play on words, the hopeful quotation turned smartly on its head by a minor key and a slithering electronic beat. Throughout the album, the singer’s dusky voice—multiplied into a dense, shifting chorus—is seductive and, at times, dissonant.
But Marshall knows there is strength in numbers, and on Sun, she has never been more committed, more defiant, or more powerful.