Clarks, The - 2000 Let It Go

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ARTIST:Clarks, The
ALBUM: Let It Go
LABEL: Razor And Tie
YEAR: 2000

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image
LINEUP: Scott Blasey - vocals, guitar * Rob James - lead and rhythm guitars * Greg Joseph - bass * Dave Minarik - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Snowman * 02 I'm A Fool * 03 Better Off Without You * 04 Born Too Late * 05 Let It Go * 06 Chasin' Girls * 07 Flame * 08 Butterflies And Airplanes * 09 Think Of England * 10 Highwire * 11 The Letter * 12 Memory Serves

Background

During a fourteen year career spanning five albums, the Gods have not exactly been smiling down on The Clarks. If they had been, the band would certainly be known to a wider audience than folk in their native Pittsburgh.

Yet their latest effort 'Let It Go' reveals that while fame and fortune may have evaded them over the years, a knack for penning catchy, kick ass rock songs certainly hasn't. And the band's longevity is a key reason why the band have managed to write an album which is melodic without being repetitive, and cohesive and unified despite the diversity of material on it. Formulaic it ain't.

The Songs

Lead singer Scott Blasey and bassist Greg Joseph are The Clarks' main songsmiths, yet lead guitarist Rob James proves he is no slouch either, and it's his solitary cut which has fuelled much of the optimism surrounding 'Let It Go'.

Featuring a crunching riff and stellar guitar work from James, throbbing bassline, stirring vocals and some solid skin bashing from Dave Minarik, 'Better Off Without You' displays a band at the peak of its abilities. It's one of the most memorable tunes of the year, a classic song for the jilted; up there with The Loveless' 'Return of The Ex Girlfriend' in terms of melody and sheer bitterness, and has even spawned its own website (www.better-off-without-you.com).

The only problem with such a huge song like this is that the rest of the album has to be good enough to prevent the rest of the disc paling into insignificance. Happily, 'Let It Go' doesn't fall into the trap of being a one song album, as gloriously melodic and interesting tunes spill out of the speakers at a rate of knots.

Opener 'Snowman' is a furious, ballsy rocker underpinned by a simple but effective hook, while the acoustic based 'I'm A Fool' with it's pleading verse and chorus finds the band in upbeat, jangly guitar pop territory.

Proving that the band aren't culled from the musically homogenous current crop of US modern rock bands, the clever arrangements of the title track and 'Butterflies and Aeroplanes' emphasise another side of their songwriting and demonstrates the positive contribution of producer Justin Niebank.

The punchy 'Highwire' with its mock 70's-pop riff even gives a playful nod to the Jackson 5 while the powerful 'Think Of England' and 'Chasin' Girls' are filled with the kind of witty lyrical insights you would expect from a band who formed whilst at Indiana University.

But the rockier moments are complimented by three choice, mellow moments. Chilled out, thoughtful and restrained, 'The Flame' sparkles in the ethereal charm of a trippy backbeat and haunting vocal performance by Blasey.

Album closer 'If Memory Serves' is a gentle and blissfully laid back country rock song while the philosophical 'Born Too Late' displays the cleverest lyrics on 'Let It Go' in it's examination of aspiring to greatness; 'Vincent will you teach me how to paint/Theresa will I ever be a saint/John I really think your songs are great/I was born too late'.

In Summary

Having been around long enough to know how the music business works, I don't think The Clarks would necessarily appreciate being tagged as 'the next big thing'.

Instead, just achieving the wider recognition and admiration they deserve seems to be their focus and 'Let It Go' hints that they have done more than enough to guarantee that, with or without a beam of approval from Him upstairs.


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