There he stands. Balding, fat, ageing, American flag across his chest. Thousands of young British kids jumping up and down to "My Way" or "Rollin'" or some other Limp Bizkit crap. Thousands of kids with American flags on their wall, John Madden '99 in their Playstations and "Korn" written in Tipp-Ex across their school bag. A generation on from Britpop, and British culture has fallen from grace in Pop music. This album, aims to redress the balance. It succeeds far more than I'd dared hope.
You see, Clearlake remember a time when Noel Gallagher had the Union Jack on his guitar and Geri Halliwell had it on her dress. They remember joyous references made in Blur and Suede albums that you knew the Americans just wouldn't "get", they remember that feeling of patriotism that ran through British music, and they aim to bring it back.
When they chime in with opener "Sunday Evening", after only a minute or so, 'Songs Of Praise' gets a mention, as does the rain, and suddenly you empathise with a record for the first time in ages. You KNOW all about Sunday evening, you've been through the boredam just like Jason Pegg has, a 1000 times before. It makes you feel so special, like your in some kind of unique club.
They repeat this trick again and again on songs like "Something To Look Forward To", reminding you of just how boring this country is, or "Don't Let The Cold In" where you almost shiver with cold just through listening to the song. But empathy's also created in other ways. "I want to Live in a Dream", and of course we all do, "I Hang On Every Word You Say" written for that girl who you went out with but she dumped you for somone better, because you were just so clingy and were always phoning her up. And then it comes. The most moving song written in years.
A song full of passion, pathos, humour, realism, and patriotism. And it's about Jumble Sales. "Jumble Saleing" is an eloquent, intelligent but so wonderfully moving song, that a grown man whose spent all his life in this country can't help but shed a tear. The 'Last Of The Summer Wine' Harmonica, the simple, yearning lyrics, just the sheer Englishness of it all. The album's full of Syd Barrett-like guitar licks, swirly Sgt. Pepper effects, but the clearest reference here is early Blur. The innovative guitar work, the sharp, English lyrics, the floppy fringes, the distinct smell of am "A"-Level or two between them. Of course Blur went on to become the biggest and best band of the nineties. Here's hoping Clearlake can follow them. On his evidence, thier more than half way there.
Let's just hope they don't start a band of cartoons though, eh?
9Joe Wisbey's Score