Mug Museum

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Mug Museum
Cate Le Bon Mug Museum album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released12 November 2013
RecordedMarch 2013
GenreIndie rock, folk rock, psychedelic rock
Length42:09
Label
ProducerNoah Georgeson, Josiah Steinbrick
Cate Le Bon chronology
Cyrk II
(2012)
Mug Museum
(2013)
Crab Day
(2016)
Singles from Mug Museum
  1. "I Think I Knew"
    Released: August 28, 2013
  2. "Are You with Me Now?"
    Released: September 10, 2013

Mug Museum is the third studio album by Welsh singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon, released in 2013. It was produced by Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick and was recorded in Los Angeles shortly after Le Bon relocated there from Wales. The album was generally praised by critics for its understated musical arrangements and lyrical content based on the theme of relationships, which was partially inspired by the recent death of Le Bon's grandmother. The track "I Think I Knew" features a duet between Le Bon and Perfume Genius.

Composition and recording[edit]

Mug Museum was recorded in Los Angeles in March 2013, shortly after Le Bon relocated there from Wales. The album was produced by Noah Georgeson, known for his work with Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart, and Josiah Steinbrick. Le Bon's collaboration with Georgeson led to a more spare, stripped-down style compared to her previous work: "We realised that everything was sounding so good that there was this unwritten rule that things have to really deserve their place on the track to warrant being there."[1] Le Bon's other collaborators on the album included H. Hawkline, Sweet Baboo, Nick Murray, and Seattle recording artist Perfume Genius performing guest vocals on "I Think I Knew".

Le Bon described Mug Museum as a reaction to the recent death of her grandmother, stating "rather than it being a grief laden album it is more about what someone at the top of the female chain leaves behind and how there’s a palpable shift in every relationship. I suppose when you start meditating on any relationship then others naturally fall into the fold. The Mug Museum is an imaginary place where relationships are looked at and thought upon."[2] The title phrase "mug museum" was coined by a former roommate in reference to the accumulation of teacups in Le Bon's bedroom.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic77/100[4]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[5]
Consequence of SoundD-[6]
NME(8/10)[7]
Pitchfork Media(7.3/10)[8]
PopMatters(7/10)[9]

Mug Museum received a positive response from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 77 based on 22 reviews, indicating a "generally favorable" reception.[10] Bob Boilen, the host of NPR's All Songs Considered, compared the album to the work of Nico and Television and wrote that "it's already become one of my new best friends".[11] He later listed Mug Museum as one of his top 20 albums of 2013.[12]

Writing for NME, Ben Hewitt called the album "wonderfully weird" and praised the stripped-down musical arrangements as well as Le Bon's songwriting.[7] Jeremy Larson of Pitchfork expressed similar sentiments, describing "small, graceful songs with deceptive amounts of depth". He also praised Le Bon's vocal performance, writing "Sometimes she sounds like the shyest member of a folksy sylvan choir and other times she rears up and belts out a high soprano note at the climax of 'Duke.'"[8] Brian Josephs of Consequence of Sound gave the album a negative review, writing that "Mug Museum lacks any sort of emotional dialogue with the listener".[6]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Cate Le Bon.

No.TitleLength
1."I Can't Help You"4:00
2."Are You with Me Now?"4:20
3."Duke"3:49
4."No God"4:38
5."I Think I Knew"4:48
6."Wild"3:28
7."Sisters"4:05
8."Mirror Me"3:48
9."Cuckoo Through the Walls"5:29
10."Mug Museum"3:44
Total length:42:09

Personnel[edit]

Musicians
Production
  • Noah Georgeson – producer, mixing
  • Josiah Steinbrick – producer
  • Samur Khouja – engineer
  • Alex DeGroot – assistant engineer
  • H. Hawkline – sleeve design
  • Piper Ferguson – cover photo

References[edit]

  1. ^ Whyte, Woodrow (20 November 2013). "DiS meets Cate Le Bon". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  2. ^ Perez, Christopher (14 November 2013). "An Interview with Cate Le Bon". Bowlegs Music. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  3. ^ Sweeney, Alisha (13 November 2013). "Interview: Cate Le Bon". Colorado Public Radio. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Mug Museum – Cate Le Bon". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2016-12-30.
  5. ^ Monger, James Christopher. "Mug Museum - Cate Le Bon". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  6. ^ a b Josephs, Brian (14 November 2013). "Album Review: Cate Le Bon – Mug Museum". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  7. ^ a b Hewitt, Ben (11 November 2013). "Cate Le Bon - 'Mug Museum'". NME. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  8. ^ a b Larson, Jeremy D. (15 November 2013). "Cate Le Bon: Mug Museum". Pitchfork. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  9. ^ James, Matt (25 November 2013). "Cate Le Bon: Mug Museum". PopMatters. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Mug Museum - Cate Le Bon". Metacritic. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  11. ^ Boilen, Bob (3 November 2013). "First Listen: Cate Le Bon, 'Mug Museum'". NPR. Retrieved 20 January 2014.
  12. ^ Boilen, Bob (16 December 2013). "Bob Boilen's Top 20 Albums of 2013". NPR. Retrieved 20 January 2014.