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I Am Kloot - A beautifully crafted album of twisted sad laments
on 21 January 2013
"I Am Kloot's" last album "The Sky at night" was a gem and John Bramwell's mixture of twisted sad laments and heart warming anthems should have dominated the charts for an eternity. True a Mercury nomination followed and the presence of the Elbow heavyweights Guy Garvey and Craig Potter at the mixing desk generated significant interest. But while it shone a light on the band the beam was not dazzling. On this new album "Let it all in" the same producers are back although if anything this is a less commercial beast with much of the lushness removed and return to the punchy harder edge of earlier albums with a number of first takes included. It may however be more of a stayer since the quality as ever that shines through. The opener is the burlesque blues of "Bullets" and sees Bramwell bitterly reflecting that "you treat your mind like a cheap hotel/somewhere you can stay but never stop" until it also crashes into a ferocious guitar solo which echoes a Tom Waits style intervention. "Let them all in" is a gentle acoustic number beautifully sung by Bramwell with understated band accompaniment while the excellent "Hold back the Night" could have alternatively figured on Portishead's trip hop gloomy masterpiece "Dummy". It starts with a bass and vocal, an echoing guitar sparingly inserting lonely notes until a the introduction of a pounding piano is eventually swept away by dramatic orchestral strings. As a single it will not trouble the charts but as a great song it ticks all the boxes.
Other songs like the bittersweet "Mouth on Me" harks back to childhood themes and showcases how this band fit together like a well worn glove. Peter Jobson (bass) and Andy Hargreaves (drums) are never needlessly showy but have a great understanding of how to colour in the prefect backdrop, borne of 14 years of reading each others musical mind. It also makes you realize quite how close is young Alex Turner's vocal style to that of Bramwell. Other songs include the lovely little ditty "Masquerade" is pure George Harrison while the jaunty "Some better day" is possibly the one song here that would have obviously fitted on "The Sky at night". There are a couple of songs that don't really engage that much, thus at this at this early point "Shoeless" seems a bit drab, and the last song "These days are mine" possibly overworks the Beatles linkage. That said I Am Kloot songs grow like trees over time and more perseverance will pay of. Much better is the bigger anthem and aching melody of "Even the stars" which sounds to this reviewer to be one of the best things that Bramwell has written.
In the final judgement this is an album which yet again proves that "I Am Kloot" are a hidden treasure and this record will undoubtedly consolidate an already uber loyal fan base and possibly expand it. "Let it all in" shows a band comfortable in their own skin, making the music they want to make and if you like it then fantastic but if you don't move on. This is music that makes sense when you consider the bands 14 year career and their refusal to deviate from a path of steady persistence which will probably never lead to enormous riches. The obvious thing to have done would have been to record "The Sky at Night Part 2". Its to Bramwell and co's credit that they have resisted this and in turn made an album that when all the necessary ingredients come together has a sheer emotional pull which is irresistible.