CLEARLAKE – “Don’t Let The Cold In”(CD Single, Dusty Company)
Clearlake’s singer can’t, to get that out the way. But as everyone knows there are good non-singers and bad non-singers: Mr. Clearlake sounds like Billy Bragg trying to be Scott Walker, a notion of such shocking wrongness that it intrigues. Well, it intrigues me, at least. Which is a lot more than English indie bands these days generally manage. Clearlake aren’t immediately original – “Don’t Let The Cold In” has big drums and a big hook as well as a wannabe-big voice – but they might well be original on the sly. I can’t, for example, work out who they sound like – “Don’t Let The Cold In” is Britrock, at a stretch, but Britrock where the guitars do interesting molten throbbing things rather than just strum themselves to amplified death. “I Hang On Every Word You Say” is discredited knees-up Britpop, maybe, but much glammier and thumpier, and with a great hook. And ultimately, that voice: the more I hear it the more I like it. Heartfelt like a big sad toy, plain but ambitious with it, clumsily expressive, so near being just another crappy English Arena Indieband singer, but whether by design or limitation missing the mark and being something much more interesting. This single isn’t greatness, but it’s nearer than an English pop band have got in a good while. The weeklies might be on to something here. Trembling fingers crossed.

(I was going to say that “I Hang On Every Word You Say” answers the question “What if Space were good?”, but even posing that question stretches the Laws Of Rock Criticism almost to breaking point.)