I SMELL ASSASSINATION… MANCHESTER’S HIGH-CALIBRE ‘BEST KEPT SECRET’ I AM KLOOT MAKE SHORT SHRIFT OF THE STRING-SODDEN EPICNESS OF TWO YEARS AGO ON NEW ALBUM LET IT ALL IN, RELEASED NEXT MONDAY. THE AIM IS TRULY RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES, THE OPENING SHOT FIRED OFF IS BULLETS. BUT THE QUESTION IS: WHO IS IT IN THE CROSS-HAIRS?
“I kept the note you never wrote, and put it with the rest I haven’t got,” sings John Bramwell, “and I’ve got the bullets from your gun here, should you return for another shot…”
It’s an opening salvo that draws you straight in to the album and into Bramwell’s confidence, lyrical aims brutal but sure: “I’m blaming someone else,” he says, explaining the song, “but I’m trying to cover up for the fact that, yeah, I’ve made an absolute mess, I’ve made an arse of myself.”
As it ever was with I Am Kloot, the songwriter-in-chief seems, ultimately, to turn the gun on himself.
The skip-the-self-worth-and-heavy-on-the-self-loathing heart-pouring is oh-so-human and rather intoxicating, while the drunk-at-five-in-the-morning-and-lost-in-the-city darkness is bitterly stone-cold and sobering. It’s a heady night out (of its tree). The song’s arrangement is a shivery appropriation of The Doors’ PEOPLE ARE STRANGE, twisting it into a hangover slink and back-street shuffle. Though it’s bleak, sparse and skeletal, BULLETS is no blank.
HOLD BACK THE NIGHT begins as spectral but ends as stirring, while MOUTH ON ME is one of several dignity-intact radio-friendly moments which showcase I Am Kloot’s knack for a familiar-sounding tune, and it leaves one bemused as to why the group has not been more commercially successful. MASQUERADE feels as if it’s melodic cousin-once-removed to New Order’s TEMPTATION, a THE THINGS WE SAID TODAY acoustic bitter-suite, while single THESE NIGHTS ARE MINE also seems to vaguely reference the Fab Four – or at least George.
Mournful closer FORGIVE ME THESE REMINDERS is hugely affecting, sounding like Leonard Cohen may recently have taken a rented room in some opaque part of town and begun to pick not only his guitar, but at the dull wallpaper with his fingernails to see what scratchy truths might lay pencilled in behind. The gentle sliding in of a lulling see-saw string arrangement is simple and quietly breathtaking, a low-key nod to the lusher dynamics of the last album.
Throughout the majority of LET IT ALL IN things are tapered back to a roughly three-piece intimacy, with what seems to be the deliberate intention of sharpening an emotional point which the grandiose strings sometimes blunted on 2010’s album THE SKY AT NIGHT. When Guy Garvey and Craig Potter’s orchestral black-cloud-cover does burst this time, it’s sparingly and leaves its moments whetted with poignancy.
LET IT ALL IN diaries the pair operating with a genuine care. They once again produce in mood deeply sympathetic to the material, though this time they seem to find more space – managing to fashion something sonically similar yet pitched almost entirely elsewhere. The extra Elbow room is no problem for I Am Kloot and the wonderful self-supporting songs, here.