Alex Clare
The Lateness Of The Hour


2.0
poor

Review

by Alex Carlson USER (52 Reviews)
February 10th, 2013 | 8 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Pop crooning and electronic effects collide into a muddled wreck on Alex Clare's debut album.

Combining genres has always been risky business. We’ve heard it all: rap and rock, dance and R&B, even latin and metal. But with the rise of electronica as a major genre of popular interest, everyone’s been trying to mix in new styles with this genre. UK crooner Alex Clare has been making large waves in the pop field lately. His combination of soulful singing and electronica-based production effects has launched the UK songwriter into the Top 40 stratosphere. But ignore his song’s appearance on Internet Explorer commercials for a second. When it comes right down to it, Clare has two separate musical loves controlling his debut album, The Lateness of the Hour. Alex Clare’s vocals are smooth and bluesy at first, but behind his completely tolerable voice is a mix of soul and grubby electronica that just don’t fit well together.

Blending soul vocals with dubstep and electronica isn’t anything new, but neither Alex Clare’s slick vocals nor the experimental drum n’ bass production get to shine on The Lateness of the Hour. Clare has a good voice, one that has already proven to be pop gold for the singer. His loves of classic soul like Stevie Wonder and pop stylishness like Prince are a heavy influence on his singing groove. Still, among many other similar vocalists like Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys or even Steve Ewing of The Urge, Alex Clare’s breathy singing sounds more imitative than groundbreaking. His slides and crows show some vocal virtuosity, but aside from a few single-worthy instances like “Up All Night”, don’t stand out nearly enough as they should.

The electronica elements aren’t too bad either, but do nothing to blend in with Clare’s groovy wail. In the massive pop hit “Too Close”, the artist croons over loud, fluctuating dubstep effects which get boring very quickly. In “Sanctuary” and “I Love You”, in what could’ve been a serene flow of atmospheric balladry, Clare can’t help but insert loud, intrusive effects. Not only that, but the lackluster tracks like “Whispering” are written with no real sense of structure or hookiness, only serving to once again enforce the complete sense of incongruity between Clare’s voice and the heavier electronica effects. This just doesn’t add up with Clare’s success in the pop market, one where hooks are the name of the game.

Despite these problems, Clare still manages to make a few solid songs on The Lateness of the Hour. “Hands are Clever” is a stunning example of how his soulful singing doesn’t need to be shoved under lackluster production to be a hit. The piano-driven tracks like “I Won’t Let You Down” may sound a bit by-the-book, but they actually let Clare’s songwriting skill show. Also, when the production elements are more subtle, more textured and less in-your-face (like in the minimalist “Damn Your Eyes”) you can almost see what Clare was trying to accomplish with this album. Those steady blends of vocals and lighter electronica production are where The Lateness of the Hour truly sounds alive, where it really feels complete and ambitious. But the two sides of Clare’s coin are constantly at a tug-o-war with each other, pulling back and forth between a muddy, unappealing grey area.

Instead of sounding like a gentle brew of Clare’s crooning and spacey, drum n’ bass production, The Lateness of the Hour sounds like two completely different albums being played atop one another. Aside from a few exceptions, Clare’s debut album is composed of schizophrenic mish-mashes of his two main musical loves instead of crisp, steady combinations. Dubstep and clean, bluesy vocals can work together well, but Clare’s indecisive songwriting makes both sides feel shirked and underutilized. Alex Clare desperately needs to figure out what he really wants to do with his style for his next musical endeavor, because The Lateness of the Hour sounds incredibly pedestrian, both as a pop vocals album and as a dance/electronica project.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Cygnatti
February 10th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

very good review, covers a lot of ground and definitely lets the readers know that you know what you're talking about (not gonna get into genre talks),

it reads like a 2.5 tbh, I agree with most points on here


Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

Cygnatti
February 10th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

damn your eyes is a serious jam though

Sanders
February 10th 2013


2352 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

idk I really enjoy this album

good review though

Ecnalzen
February 10th 2013


6574 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like this for the most part. It's not real high on substance, but it's a fun listen. I love Treading Water and Too Close, while the rest ranges from pretty good to decent. The only song I am not a big fan of is Hands Are Clever. I don't know why, but it sounds like a Jason Mraz song to me.

toxin.
February 10th 2013


12499 Comments


Too Close rules though, but I haven't heard anything else.

good review though pos

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 11th 2013


4435 Comments


Sweet, review, man. Have not heard this though. Anyway, POS'd.

Cygnatti
May 27th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

underrated stuff. I don't get it, just because you hear it a lot, doesn't make it bad...

PostMesmeric
May 30th 2013


377 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

@Cygnatti

True: just because something is overplayed on the radio or television, that doesn't mean it's bad, and I think a lot of people forget that. However, I found this album to be bad because it lacked cohesion. The dubstep and singing never meshed.

If you liked this album yourself, more power to you. This review is just my opinion, after all.



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