It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Cat Power’s Chan Marshall. Her last album of original material, The Greatest, came out in 2006, and since then we got her second covers record, Jukebox, in 2008 and little else. She’s been laying low since then, but little bits of news have been leaking out lately that she’s at work on a new album. And now, we’ve got a new song to confirm those rumors.
“King Rides By” is out and available for download now, and you can get it simply by making a small donation to charities supported by Marshall and boxer Manny Pacquiao. Before you donate, though, you can hear the song by checking out what might be the most mesmerizing music video you’ll ever see. The video features Pacquiao (the music itself doesn’t, sorry) working a speed bag in slow motion for the song’s entire 7-minute run time. The routine sometimes matches right up with the beat of the song, which is when things get really eerie but also kind of calmly beautiful. It’s a simple visual, but the sheer slow repetition of it, and that look in Pacquiao’s eyes, is fascinating.
As for the song itself, Marshall has returned with something cooler and more spacious than the soul samplings of The Greatest, but it’s still a very approachable version of Cat Power. As the guitar clangs away, and the beat keeps spare time, her voice fills up the space rather than thinning out with brittle melancholy the way it has in the past. “I do not want to scare you anymore,” she insists at one point, as if to tell us that the ghostly heartbreak of past Cat Power tunes is gone, and what we’ve got now is a fuller, more confident sound, that is no less haunting in its own right. At the very least, a dollar donation is a small price to pay for a song this solid. But it could also be a good omen for the Cat Power record that (we hope) we’ll hear in 2012.