A consistently intriguing album which may prove more enduring than its predecessor.
Jeanette Leech 2013-01-16
“The future keeps coming,” warns I Am Kloot’s frontman, John Bramwell, twice over the course of I Am Kloot’s sixth studio album Let It All In. On Hold Back the Night, he spits it: you must fear and fight the future, he seems to tell us; you must grasp whatever crumbs you can from the present. Yet, on These Days Are Mine, he offers us a rare optimism. Look forward to what’s to come. The days will be better, full of life, so don’t you worry.
What is the future for I Am Kloot? As the band enters its 14th year, their bitter poetry seems destined to always remain a sideshow attraction. Even with the Elbow connection (Guy Garvey and Craig Potter produce this album, as they have prior efforts), even with their 2010 Mercury nomination for Sky at Night, I Am Kloot’s ascent has been glacial.
A possible explanation for the band’s cult constancy without a mainstream breakthrough is that they simply enjoy obstinacy. In this spirit, Let It All In feels like a snub to those who might have picked up on the band from the lush Sky at Night. I Am Kloot have replaced that album’s rich texture with a careworn poignancy. It recalls their earlier, coarser albums.
It’s not that the melodies on Let It All In are sour. Indeed, Some Better Day has the parping horns of a Sunday afternoon concert in the local park, and Masquerade somehow combines Manchester jangle with flamenco flourish. Sometimes the sound is huge: the axe interlude in Bullets and the string-laden grandeur of Hold Back the Night are genuine arms-aloft moments. Yet, even at at most epic turns, there’s a real abrasiveness to this. Lyrical spears and vocal splinters constantly snag the ears.
The net result is a baleful, almost bluesy collection of songs that’s certainly harder to love than Sky at Night. But it’s a consistently intriguing album and, in the long run, may even prove more enduring than its predecessor. At the very least, it’s another strong contribution to an uncompromising back catalogue.
The future is unlikely to be Kloot. But lurking in the shadows of the present suits them well.