I was late to the I am Kloot party, I’ll admit. A very dear friend of mine, whose musical ear leads me to believe that in a former life/parallel universe her career is significantly more musically led, thrust I am Kloot’s – Sky at Night at me back in 2010 with a simple ‘listen to this, you’ll love it.'
She was of course right, though I dallied for a while, loaded it up into my iTunes and then forgot about it till the smart lyrics and haunting orchestral tunes caught me unawares, initially mere shuffle background fodder, crying out for more attention. Which the album duly got and has retained.
The new I am Kloot – Let it All In, released on a dreary cold Monday in January is, like its immediate predecessor, produced by Craig Potter and Guy Garvey of Elbow fame. It has already received accolades of album of the week by the Times, the Telegraph and the Times Culture magazine. It hit the top ten album charts on the last Sunday in January. It is heralded as destined for great things, securing the band’s continued (albeit modest) commercial success after 12 years and 6 albums of effort and energy. I wonder, is there anything more to say?
Well, yes, of course there is. The album opens with the expected catchy poetic lyrics in Bullet, from the command ‘don’t open that drawer there, that’s where I keep my ghastly truth’ to the statement that ‘you treat your body like a cheap hotel, somewhere you can stay but never stop’. The movement is bluesy and I’m instantly intrigued, nodding along, agreeing with John Bramwell (guitars/vocals) that this is a story I want to hear. It feels familiar but it feels like something I already know I like. I’m not disappointed as we move into the next track Let em All In….Again, the hook is the lyrics, the easy lazy way of phrasing life as in ’I can’t hear the words for the sound of the information/I haven’t got a job or a hobby or an occupation’.
However the music really comes to life around Mouth on Me. The chorus is catchy, the cymbals (though I understand Bramwell doesn’t like too much focus on the music over and above the words…) break like waves on a shore of bouncy 60s groove moving neatly into my favourite song on the album – Shoeless – which is when things really (forgive the pun) take off. Shoeless, Even the Stars and Masquerade form a central trio around which nostalgic, cine-camera/polaroid snaps are formed. From the sunshiny romance of being in love with the shoeless girl in her favourite dress to the folksy summer field of Masquerade I am Kloot provide choruses that are filled with hopefulness and a sense of the meaning behind the moment. These are the images seen in the peripheral vision, a glimpse almost missed unless we pay heed to the instruction ‘Don’t let the clouds clutter up your skies/Let the TVs turn off their weary eyes, for who are we, you and I?’. Even the Stars opens with a question ‘Did you crack the sky….Did you cross the bridgeless gulf of chatter/Did you say just one thing that mattered’ a catechism on having perspective, after all even the stars die, but even so Bramwell, having seen it sparkle and shatter, affirms jubilantly that he has ‘half a mind/To crush the bridgeless gulf of chatter/To say just one thing that matters’. A rallying cry of juxtaposed words aiming to reach beyond the pretty-but-gritty indie pop-chorus.
The whole album has a reflective, nostalgic feel about it, of looking over a life and giving a nod of approval to a way of living; acknowledging choices made about love, the pub and fame that could’ve come off differently - but perhaps only if lived by a less cool group of people.
It’s good, of course it is. It was always going to be challenging to usurp the acer that was the Mercury prize nominated Sky at Night and it’s close enough to that album in sound and feel to not disappoint. What I am disappointed by though is that the only date (at this moment in time) in the I am Kloot European tour that is sold out is the Bristol Trinity gig on 23rd February. Yes, go on those of you who have tickets, go ahead and mock the rest of us…In the meantime I’m going to call my very dear friend and find out what she thinks of Let it All In…