CLARE - Ease (Best Kept Secret)

Clare are the only Japanese band on the label, and this is their third album for BSK. Gentle electronic pop is the order of the day, with the electronic overshadowing the pop on opener ‘Words Fail’, which is a short instrumental prelude to the album. ‘Wanna Be Alone’ is a pleasant electro-pop song, with Yoko’s fragile vocals over a minimal electronic backing of synths and programming. It might sound a bit dated, but is quite easy on the ear and passes by without any effort on your part. ‘Tears’ and ‘This Life’ follow on in pretty much the same style, and before you know it side one is over. ‘Does That Answer Your Question?’ opens side two in a more positive mood, with electric piano and swathes of synth creating a lovely ambient setting for a quasi-instrumental featuring vocoder vocals and a short lyrical section. Easily the best track so far, and followed by another upbeat piece in ‘Far Away’, the gently experimental ‘Itchy And Fidgety’, and another quasi-instrumental in ‘If’. As with a lot of electro-pop, the songs sound unfinished, as if they are still waiting for the bass and drums to be put on, and once again a beefier production would have benefited the sound. The songs themselves are fine, but sound so wispy that they dissipate into the air before embedding themselves in your brain. If you like electro-pop then this has something to offer, but it is not really for me.