Cat Power’s music and persona, until now, have been coated in varying degrees of malaise and ennui. Her fleeting role in Wong Kar Wai’s otherwise disappointing My Blueberry Nights was a highlight, partially because she played off the bittersweet undertones in her music, and even her most defiant moments (à la 2006’s The Greatest) are often her most heartbreaking.
“Ruin,” Cat Power’s first new piece of music since 2008’s Jukebox, could be seen as a rebirth for Chan Marshall, shedding much of the darkness that once defined her sound. Though the title may hint at bleaker depths, as soon as we hear the first uncharacteristically jovial piano notes it's clear that this is a different sort of Cat Power than we're used to. Even without the emotional weight, it turns out that Cat Power is still a remarkably compelling pop artist. For long-time fans, it's a relief to hear her familiar voice untethered, and, for the relative newcomer, it may be a surprise to hear that Cat Power had anything to be sad about in the first place.