Here is a record that succeeds in giving an increasing sterile music scene a good kick...
Catherine Chambers 2002-11-20
Famed for their aesthetically-pleasing haircuts as much as their hammed-up art-rock histrionics The Cooper Temple Clause have, since their inception in the late 90s, been kept under close surveillance by beady-eyed music hacks desperately seeking the next 'saviours of British rock'. And while the Reading lads debut album, See Through This And Leave, didn't quite crack its way into the best debuts of all time it left few in doubt that here was a band capable of producing something truly great.
To cut to the chase then, is Kick Up The Fire... that something? Well yes and no. Here is a record that succeeds in giving an increasing sterile music scene a good kick up the ass. However, there are more than a few moments where it veers dangerously close to disappearing up its own introspective derriere.
The Coopers second album kicks off with brooding "The Same Mistakes", a quietly menacing song that sets the foreboding tone that pervades the majority of the record. This is followed by the stupendous sonic whirl-wind "Promises Promises". All menacing riffs and paranoid vocals 'I think there's gonna be some action cos it's got me going insane' cries Ben Gautrey before cacophonous riffs collide with fiery intensity.
Elsewhere the record rarely evokes a sense of 'letting the flames break loose'. TCTC seem caught between electro-infused prog rock indulgence and thumping guitar rock. Unfortunately there just isn't enough of the latter. Kick Up The Fire jumps between restrained moodiness ("Into My Arms") and metallic bursts of kinetic energy ("A.I.M"). While it's only a matter of time before the curse of Radiohead strikes again -see the monochrome miserablism of "Talking To A Brick Wall".
Quite frankly this record is a perennial head-f*** that is liable to lapse into schizophrenic episodes at any given moment. Depending on the mood you're in you'll either rejoice in aural exhilaration of it all or throw it at the wall in exasperation.
Kick Up The Fire... is an interesting record but, as self-indulgent swansong "Written Apology" confirms, it's too cold, clinical, and self-obsessed to warrant your absolute devotion.