CLEARLAKE – Amber (Domino)

For me, a new album by Clearlake is something of an event, following on from their absolute corker of an album ‘Cedars’, which in turn built upon a basis laid down in their outstanding debut ‘Lido’. ‘Cedars’ well deserves its number three position in my recent ‘Top 100 albums of the last decade’ listing, and following it was always going to be a difficult job for the band. In the intervening three years the band have hardened their sound, and opener and lead single ‘No Kind Of Life’ shows it from the off. ‘Neon’ is an outstanding track, from its harmonica motif at the beginning, to the crunching riffs which hold it all together, and it is the perfect track to release as the next single – which is exactly what they have done. ‘Good Clean Fun’ is another great driving track which motors along smoothly, while ‘Finally Free’ displays a jerky indie rhythm behind their innate knack for a catchy melody. ‘You Can’t Have Me’ lowers the pace but not the volume for the first time on the album, and the string arrangement on the title track takes this gentle ballad to a new level. ‘I Hate It That I Got What I Wanted’ is destined to become a live classic, and with its instantly memorable chorus of ‘I hate to say you told me, but you told me once before’ it is destined to be a singalong favourite. ‘Here To Learn’ is an interesting experiment in rhythm and structure, and after a few listens is quickly becomes a favourite. ‘Dreamt That You Died’ combines Jason Pegg’s knack with a gloomy lyric with the band’s powerful playing to produce a track that harks straight back to ‘Cedars’. ‘It’s Getting Light Outside’ closes the album is fine style with another great song, rounding off an album that had a lot to live up to, but pulls it off with great aplomb. Why Clearlake are not huge I just don’t know, and if this album does not redress that situation then there is no justice.