Review Summary: Interesting mix of rock, electronica, brit-pop & jazz which has a successful strike rate that should reward those who are patient.
Musical artists that mix instrumentation and genres are by nature hit & miss, with the likelihood that there will be more misses than hits. These performers are more likely to succeed on that rare song that simply gets it all right and strikes a chord with not only their fans, but the mainstream populous as well. What inevitably occurs though is that the mass market is terribly disappointed when they take that next step and buy a full album only to realize that 80% of the tracks are a terrible mish-mash of this, that & the other.
The Cooper Temple Clause, a band practically unknown out of the United Kingdom, may have proved a rarity then with their debut full-length LP 'See This Through and Leave'. With their interesting mix of rock, electronica, brit-pop & jazz, they have a strike rate on this 11 track album that they should be proud of. That's not to say that the offering does not demand some work from the listener in order to fully enjoy it, as this is definitely not the most accessible album anyone will ever listen to.
Proof of something just a little bit different hits you deep into your ear-drums right from the very beginning as opener 'Did You Miss Me"' greets with an ear-piercing background noise. It is an atmospheric, almost spooky methodically paced track, before it gathers steam and unleashes an almost punk-like finale! 2nd single 'Film-Maker' almost seems run of the mill following it as it begins with an especially effective blistering guitar riff that continues throughout and is ably assisted by good drumming and rough edged vocal harmonies. This hard rocker with punky attributes is reworked just as successfully later on the album with track 9 'Been Training Dogs'.
The band often sounds reminiscent of Oasis at their most rocking, especially on ‘Panzer Attack’, which begins a long line of songs where more & more electronica is used. But on both this song and on 1st single 'Let's Kill Music' later, this often means the vocals become a little too repetitive for my liking, if not bringing down the entire songs. This is due to the tracks still being involving for the listener, as these 2 pieces, 'Amber' and penultimate track 'The Lake', show.
Then, there is that occasion where everything comes together just perfectly. That occurs here with 4th single (and 4th track) 'Who Needs Enemies' which is my album highlight. Slower-paced, this has an almost jazzy feel and makes excellent use of vocals and musicianship to result in what is ultimately a rather infectious and melodic track.
There are some misses throughout the album. Track 6 'Digital Observations' is an overlong 7 minute ballad of sorts, while track 8 '555-4823 is a 5 minute electronic instrumental that contains some kind of weather report! Then comes the closer 'Murder Song', which along with the opener could ultimately be used as the album's barometers. 9 minutes in length, it is chilling and unnerving, while using change of pace and varying instrumentation rather effectively.
On 'See Through This and Leave', The Cooper Temple Clause are at their best when the guitar is at the forefront and their tempo is upbeat. But they add so many other components to their music that it should satisfy those looking for something a little more interesting and different than usual, no matter what kind of song they are performing. There is nothing jaw-dropping here and for that reason, the sum of the parts works better as a group than individual songs. A recommended listen, it is important to be patient with this album that should grow on you in a positive fashion. Personally, 3.5 may be a more appropriate rating, but the degree of difficulty here raises it an extra half-point.
Recommended Tracks: Who Needs Enemies", Film-Maker, Been Training Dogs & The Lake.