March 4, 2004

Test Spin: The Cooper Temple Clause

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It doesn’t take but one listen to realize that the Cooper Temple Clause’s American debut isn’t about its songs. Kick Up the Fire is not designed to showcase any particular song — or any one sound for that matter. Rather, the album is a bold statement about connections, transitions, sequence, and concept. Dedicated to contrast and surprise, Kick Up the Fire provides dark, roaring sounds followed abruptly by lulling, almost gentle moments in Radiohead-like arrangements. While the songs themselves array in crescendo-decrescendo movements, what’s most impressive about the album is the movement between tracks: sharp, rough and sometimes spooky song endings stream effortlessly into unique yet reminiscent song openings. The songs’ sequence — the way they compliment, introduce, and comment on one another — is testament to the album’s concept and, ultimately, to its success. Kick Up the Fire seems not to be about its songs but about the way the songs work and move together.

Still, the album’s ten tracks, when pried apart, prove to be inventive in their own right. The British group — considered one of the U.K.’s best new bands — fuses rock with a near aggressive electronic sound. Yet, the Cooper Temple Clause manages not to let either sound overtake or overwhelm. Experimental, mature, and smart, the album refuses to rely or settle on one way of composing a song, one structure or pattern. Instead, the songs present themselves as projects and their writers as unrelentingly creative. Memorable for its wholeness, its success as a well structured work, the album leaves you feeling like the Cooper Temple Clause is onto something — something great, something distinct. The album’s only shortcoming, though, is that it fails provide you with a clear, definitive example of what that thing is.

Archived article by Lynne Feeley