Freddie Matthews writes from London: I Am Kloot are a band from Manchester who formed in 1999. If you’re aware of the band you’ll know them for their interesting and often twisted lyrics. The lead singer with the band Elbow, also from Manchester, Guy Garvey, has been involved with I Am Kloot from the offset, mostly with production or with added backing vocals.
I Am Kloot’s story is very similar to that of Elbow’s, almost 10 years in music’s wilderness, followed by eventual success but I Am Kloot still waits for the elusive prize award that they so deserve. The last album Sky At Night received a Mercury nod with a nomination in 2010 but that was eventually won by The xx with their hugely successful debut album called xx. The nomination did help gain I Am Kloot an extended fan base and much needed media attention. John Bramwell from the band described the last album as, “Songs about drinking and disaster”. Hang on, isn’t that Elbow’s recipe also?
I Am Kloot deliver gritty tales of life and mortality that are almost poetic at times. The first track on this new album Let It All In, called Bullets, is strangely like spoken singing but only up until the middle eight, then a moody and dirty guitar solo. I’m imagining the band are in a sawdust corner of an old saloon bar in deepest South Carolina or something.
Let It All In, I am Kloot’s sixth studio album, has been 2 years in the making, partly because getting hold of Guy Garvey is a mission at times. Two years in the making isn’t always such a good thing. It basically means that many of the songs were written and recorded a long time apart.
Track 2, the song with the title of the album draws influences from the band’s taste in music at that time, but times change and I wonder if it sounds as relevant two years on. I mean the band members and not necessarily us. It’s just another new song and if it was recorded 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks, 2 days or 2 hours ago the listener or fan would surely never know. Hold Back The Night has a real blues feel. It reminds me of early Portishead or even Nina Simone. This is a killer drum beat – not too much but absolutely perfect for the song. Then there are the strings but this style always makes me think as much of Guy Garvey’s influence on Elbow, who for the last 5 years have had this production and approach to their sound. Don’t get me wrong; it’s certainly not a bad thing but just a feeling I keep getting.
I Am Kloot say that Guy Garvey is their George Martin. It’s quite possibly the best analogy from a band ever and they couldn’t be more correct. He keeps them on their game and has helped raise their standards since he produced that very first album in 1999.
If you loved the band’s last album, Sky At Night, you only have to wait for track 5 Shoeless to be reminded of that album’s opening track Northern Sky. Shoeless strikes the perfect balance of middle ground for I Am Kloot, “Shoeless in your favourite dress, You walk the shores, The waves caress your feet, You don’t really mind”, a truly beautiful lyric from a song reminiscent of John Lennon’s lyrical pen.
Track 9 These Days Are Mine could actually be Elbow, the similarities are starting to become far too obvious and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing however great a song it is. I Am Kloot are starting to lose their identity.
If you’re yet to experience I Am Kloot then John Bramwell’s vocal is worth waiting for. Let It All In is quite possibly their finest work of art yet and the two years in the making is worth it.
10 songs are over far too quickly even for this review but fortunately that’s what the repeat button is for.