I Am Kloot’s percussionist Andy Hargreaves has called their latest album ‘a little bunch of treasures’ and I’m very much inclined to forgive him his immodesty and wholeheartedly agree.
Let It All In opens with ‘Bullets’, a lissome, almost burlesque sounding number with a beautiful example of Bramwell’s bleak lyricism – ‘you treat your mind like a cheap hotel, somewhere you can stay but never stop’. If the guitar solo halfway through sounds remarkably like a strip tease, then this is Bramwell stripping off his guard and revealing his the dark depths of his thoughts.
And so the bruised and complex world of I Am Kloot is laid bare for the rest of the album. While on previous records it seemed despair was always lurking in ashtrays and pint glasses, Let It All In has left this behind and instead is troubled by a fear of the future, of being alone and unremarkable in the passing of time. They retain, however, their use of the sky as a source of artistic inspiration (if not also a sense of futility and loneliness). It is with this imagery that the orchestral surges fit perfectly, conjuring an expansive, dramatic panorama in the songs ‘Hold Back The Night’ and ‘These Days Are Mine’. Producers Guy Garvey and Craig Potter have afforded the songs the billowing grandeur they deserve without imposing their Elbow in the extreme; it is a harmonious unity between artists, not their domination nor an imitation.
As I Am Kloot’s sixth album, there is a deftly covered range of musical styles, delivered with precision and confidence that comes naturally from playing together for twelve years. From the simple Beatles-esque ‘Masquerade’ to the rumbling ‘Even The Stars’, to ‘Hold Back The Night’’s very Nina Simone chords, the band explore sounds but tie the songs together with Bramwell’s hungover, croaky vocals and the erudite candour of the lyrics. In ‘Even The Stars’, Bramwell showcases his ability to move his lines effortlessly from the histrionic to the quotidian; he asks ‘did you crack the sky wide open?’ but also ‘did you cross the bridgeless gulf of chatter? / Did you say just one thing that really matters?’. There is a bittersweet derision lingering over the album, which makes the J. Alfred Prufrock reference in ‘Some Better Day’ seem entirely appropriate.
There are less gloomy moments to the LP though. The crooning, catchy chorus of debut single ‘These Days Are Mine’ has a woozy melody and trills of strings that perfectly capture the line ‘just one smile taking up all my time’. In the middle of the album too, there is suddenly ‘Shoeless’, an arrestingly tender song to Bramwell’s daughter, and a welcome respite from crawling too far inside his mind. The band are not unnecessarily miserable; they are perhaps too astute and honest for their own good.
As their bassist Peter Jobson said, I Am Kloot are ‘all about love and disaster’. In the wake of Let It All In, it seems very few bands amalgamate these two things better.By Alice Lawrence