Two years on from their first release and being shoved under the collective woolly hat of the "new acoustic movement", I Am Kloot prove that, like many of their turn-of-the-century contemporaries, there's a lot more to them than introspective acoustic strumathons and scruffy Manchurian accents. From the whimsical romance of "From Your Favourite Sky" ("Who am I to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky?" croons John Bramwell) to the the lo-fi rumblings of "Life in the Day", this is distorted British folk infused with a crusty northern accent and trickling melodies. "Untitled No. 1" demonstrates their ethos admirably, benefiting from a lazy but essential melody that the dirty, parched beast of "Life in the Day" seems to lack. (That's surprising, as Ian Broudie has produced this along with several others here.)
The melodic drought clears up though and the songs are free to reveal their character, imagination and scope, following country lanes of heartbreak and dusty tracks leading to romantic regrets, with "Here for the World" sounding like it could have been written and performed by Bono (at least in terms of the wry, sardonic delivery anyway). "We've no reminders / No old photograph / Did you come for the money / Will you leave for the lack?" Bramwell asks, rhetorically. In fact, there's more Snow Patrol and Johnny Cash here than Elbow. I Am Kloot is a black piece of work, ambitious and experienced--the tale of a weary traveller, sick with the world, but with the glory of it reflected in his tired eyes. Against the odds, I Am Kloot have managed to produce a classic, individual album of their own eccentric styling. --Cortman Virtue
Dishevelled, hard edged Mancunians I Am Kloot are back with more songs about what an utter mess life can be.
There is no great departure here from 2001's Natural History, but they seem to have come together more as a band, rather than just lead singer John Bramwell plus backing. That's not to say that his confrontational lyrical style is absent. In fact it's become even more complicated.
In second track "From Your Favourite Sky", he asks, sardonically, "Do you dare take a breath, do you dream of a tragic death, you delicate flower?" and then repents, asking, "Who am I to dare to pull the stars from your favourite sky?"
Andy Hargreave's charismatic tom-driven drumming drives along the single, "Life In A Day", and carries away the cheerful "3 Feet Tall". He's a fantastic drummer who combines perfectly with the harshness of the vocals: "Loneliness, it's got your name and your new address when it walks in the place is a mess and it drinks and never leaves..."
They're never overly clever with anything that they do, chord progressions and bass lines are hardly contrived. They're straightforward in the telling, and they've got some great stories to tell.
The spacious arrangement of "Cuckoo" sets it off as a powerful malicious song, and Bramwell manages to carry off the repetitious refrain with sufficient derision.
"Not A Reasonable Man" is underpinned by a sparse flamenco guitar as Bramwell talks about a relationship gone wrong. He honestly recounts the actions of a man on self destruct, where any shred of dignity is long gone: "Let them all in you know that I love a crowd, but they won't get the jokes, 'cos the laughter's too loud".
After all the disorder and torment of the previous 11 tracks the trio finish the record with a sublime track of calm: "The Same Deep Water As Me", complete with a string arrangement and a horn solo.
I Am Kloot could be seen as a documentation of timeless feuding, drinking and drunkenness, getting lost and falling over, in and around Manchester. How it really feels. Sometimes it's uncomfortable. I can almost smell the rain. --Lucy Davies
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