February 26, 2004

Test Spin: Clearlake

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After an excellent full-length disc and a series of EPs released only in their native UK, Clearlake finally sees stateside distribution with their most recent LP Cedars. Benefiting greatly from the production of ex-Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde, Cedars, recently released via Domino, is a more fully realized record than the band’s previous outings. The album is an eclectic affair, offering a brash mix of raw and frenetic strumming worthy of The Cure along with lushly orchestrated arrangements of moody rock that even Coldplay would be proud to call their own.

Frontman Jason Pegg’s lyrics are dark and brooding, reflecting often on death and regret. It’s this introspection that gives the album such an incredible depth of feeling. Standouts like “Keep Smiling” and “Always the Same” show the band gradually overcoming some of the sonic timidity that has characterized earlier releases. The press release for the album boasts that despite Mr. Peggs words of self-loathing and loss, the darkness is “offset by the tremendous therapeutic clout of gorgeous melody and forensically observed lyrics.” I don’t find myself saying this too often, but somebody give that publicist a cookie. Indeed, the juxtaposition of sparkling angelic melodies and dreadfully morose lyrics makes this record one of the year’s prized British rock imports — and a highly recommended listen.

Archived article by Mathew Gewolb