Tuesday, 12 February 2013

I Am Kloot - Let It All In (Album Review 2013)

Once the greatest Manchester band no one had heard of, I Am Kloot are now flirting with the mainstream thanks to previous album: the impressive, Mercury Prize nominated, Sky At Night. Ten years from their eponymous second album, Let It All In continues in the same style, blending pop and folk to create a truly unique mix to compliment lead-singer John Bramwell's characteristic, earthy vocals. Let It All In follows Sky At Night both in terms of musical creativity and songwriting. Bramwell is continuing to excel as a singer and a lyricist, while Peter Jobson and Andy Hargreaves are as prolific as ever in support.

From the slow-building mid-tempo waltz of opener Bullets, the music steadily building to a noisy disjointed guitar break, the line 'You treat your mind like a cheap hotel; somewhere you can stay but never stop..' stands out (later substituting 'mind' for 'body'). Let Them All In is a clever verse-chorus combination in which Bramwell, with his finger on the pulse of the nation, asks 'Is this a free-load trip or an ordinary situation?' in weary, charming style. The early stand-out moment arrives with the slow, dark brooding Hold Back The Night - a wonderful vocal from Bramwell as the song builds to a neat string section, and then a big, dramatic guitar finish. These moments owe much to the production skills of Guy Garvey and Craig Potter (Elbow), and their presence adds a polish to the raw, edgy I Am Kloot sound.

Another highlight is the gorgeous Shoeless (lifting the album after the lacklustre Mouth On Me), a reminiscing love song with another superb arrangement. Bramwell delivers 'Don't let the clouds clutter up your skies; let the TVs turn off their weary eyes'; another great line, but it is the mighty production of Even The Stars (first heard on the Moolah Rouge DVD) that steals the show with its beautiful arrangement, guitar work, and dramatic, sparingly-executed vocal. Masquerade borrows somewhat from Coming Around by Travis and adds a folky charm to the album - with echoes of John Lennon in the vocal, and Some Better Day brings a brass arrangement to the quirky charm. This may not be the best song but it delivers the best writing with: 'Through the gales of life and laughter, when you don't know what you're after; drag me to the kitchen sink, my whole day is on the brink; from here I can see the moon, I think I'll move there someday soon'.

Let It All In is consistent to the end with the album's best song: the delicate, yet mighty, These Days Are Mine - a wonderful arrangement, reminiscent of The Cedar Room (fellow Manchurians Doves), complete with a smooth choral finish. And closer Forgive Me These Reminders, an ambient reflective ballad, is perfectly judged to round off an impressive album.

I Am Kloot have moved on greatly from 2005's Gods And Monsters, which ended the band's first chapter. A shift from sparse spiky arrangements, bitter-sweet lyrics and edgy themes has positioned the band to a more accessible position, and the music is better for it. Now reunited with Garvey and Potter, a more commercial sound has been reinvented, while ensuring that the personality is retained to keep centre-stage. With Sky At Night and now Let It All In, it feels like the next life for a band who always had the voice but no room in which to use it.

No comments: