Thursday, 4 August 2011
Written 4th August 2011:
Classic Album: The Cooper Temple Clause – See This Through and Leave
Year of Release: 2002
Right, so as I’m still currently awaiting a few new album releases I’m still continuing my recent journey of classic Indie album reviews for the time being here. Today’s focus turns to the late, great and, one of my all-time personal favourite bands, The Cooper Temple Clause. Originally a six-piece formed in 1998 and hailing from Reading, the band had previously released ‘The Hardware EP’ (featuring one of my favourite-ever hauntingly beautiful, acoustic tracks ‘Sister Soul’, see a link at the bottom of this review to hear it) and ‘The Warfare EP’. Along with these EPs and a handful of singles in 2001, including the tracks ‘Panzer Attack’ and ‘Film-maker’, the band steadily started attracting a small, but core army of followers, with particular interest in the band seemingly coming from ‘word-of-mouth’ between those whom had seen their dynamic live shows or heard their early material . All of this was building to the release of their full debut album and the focus of today’s 'classic album review' ‘See This Through and Leave’. With its eventually release in 2002, what was the record like and what impact did it have at the time? Hopefully this review and it's conclusion will answer those questions!
So the album kicks-off with a twinkling sound of keyboards and synths courtesy of band members Tom Bellamy, Didz (Hammond) and Kieran ‘Mayhem’ Mahon, before vocalist Ben Gauntrey opens with the line that forms the song’s title ‘Did You Miss Me?’ Early indications on this electronically-influenced track is that this is going to be a deliciously, dark and brooding record, and it's not until a good 3 minutes of synths into the song we get the full-on Indie-guitar rock assault that this record smacks off throughout, while Ben’s, Liam Gallagher-esque snarl, tears through lyrics describing a couple’s rocky relationship. After the opening track has done its job of steadily building to such a frantic rock-out, previous single ‘Film-Maker’ picks up the ball and continues running with it. After opening with a fast and furious guitar riff from lead guitarist Dan Fisher, the track speeds and bounces along with heavy basslines from Didz, as Ben portrays lyrics of voyeurism with lines such as “Don’t think that you can’t see me/That I’m not watching you….” It’s a great fun, yet dark, hard-rock track at 100mph. ‘Panzer Attack’ leads with another synth based build up to it, before crashing in again with a violent and frantic bassline this time coming from Dan (the band reguarly used to switch instruments during live shows) battling hard for supremecy on the track against 'Mayhem', Didz and Ben on synths with Tom's beats in the background. With hard-hitting lyrics such as 'Short-sleeve, shit-kicking animals lining me up, it's all over their face!' being torn-through with Ben's now familiar snarl we have another track grabbing the listener by the balls and dragging them along for an exhilarating ride through-out it!
Another Single from the band 'Who Needs Enemies?' starts a bit more of a calming pace for the album, with it's plodding bass and more low-key guitar pacing it along nicely, backed by a military-like drumming throughout provided by Jon (Harper). The track still highlight's Ben's raw-like vocals, and features nice brass-sounding sections throughout it to build a masterful sound that complement's the track nicely indeed. 'Amber' portays the picture of a lonely life of a heavy drinker, and as such starts with a more low-key guitar riff to it and 'spaced-out' synths to create the distant feeling of the song's protagonist. It's another track that builds up to a powerful, angry chorus that lashes out with perfect timing in context of the tale of the overall track. 'Digital Observations' is the first time we see the band really pushing the boundries of their electronic sound fused, with deep-bass and jaggered-guitar, and is certainly one of the more experimental pieces by the band here while very much defining their own unique sound. With another electronic sound opening it followed by a steady build of guitar melody 'Let's Kill Music' does anything but kill music and is actually one of the more poppy guitar Indie tracks on the record with Ben taunting with the catchy line "We're dare you to mean a single word you say!" throughout it's verses.
'555-4823' is a complex instrumental about halfway through the album. It would be difficult from written text alone to fully describe the scale of different sounds in this most electronic piece of the album yet, but you can certainly listen out for samples of church bells, news narrations and Big Ben for just a few of some of the experimental sounds fused together here. After possibly the most complex track of the album (one that I imagine Kieran had a field-day in the studio recording!) we get back to more familiar, dirty, guitar rock that set some of the early pace of the album with 'Been Training Dogs'. Dan pulls off a masterfully catchy guitar riff here complemented perfectly by Didz's bouncing bass-line to set the fun rock-rhythm for the song. The video for this track featured the band 'trapped' in a cage adorned by Indie kids rocking out on the outside of it, and that image also brillantly captures the spirit of the track to Ben's menacing vocals here.
Things slow down again for penultimate track 'The Lake' again creating another distant-like feeling of isolation for the listener before a heavy chorus featuring the protagonists cry's for help against an impending, drowning feeling hence the track title 'The Lake'. However, if you think that chorus was heavy and dramatic in the last track, you have not heard anything yet before the truly epic closing track 'Murder Song'. Weighing in at a good 8 minutes long, this track encompasses the entire feel throughout the album as it slowly builds, and burns away at the listener before the full-on chorus literally 'murders' anything that has come before it on the record. I can't think of many more closing songs bigger than this track, and it was always something special to see the band play this live with full-on-strope effects accompanying the blistering chorus.
So after what is a long but fucking epic journey through this record how do I still rate it? Well at the time this album was released, the Indie scene was slowly starting to build a bit of a revival after the fall-out period from the BritPop era of the mid-90's featuring the likes of Blur and Oasis. We'd had The Strokes and Interpol previously re-invigorate guitar sounds in 2001 (see blog #15 for more on that) but what a lot of Indie fans where still hoping for was a killer follow-up album from Oasis after the somewhat disappointing efforts of 'Be Here Now. For me personally this was the record Oasis, could only dream of writing at the time! With it's frenetic guitar and bass riffs pulsing at it's heart, interspersed with manic electronics and synth sounds, thunderous and accomplished drumming throughout, and vicious, snarling, intelligent vocals this record for me personally came out of nowhere and filled the void for the first time since 'Definitely Maybe' a record which even Dan Fisher thanked in this album's sleeve notes! This album really became a soundtrack for me thoughout 2002 and even now I would still give this 9 'Film-Makers' out of 10! I personally feel the couple of experimental tracks in the middle of the album just take a bit too much of a side-track in comparison to the rest of the record otherwise this would be scoring a perfect 10/10. However, the band went on to make two subsequent albums after this 'Kick up the fire and let the flames break loose' and 'Make this your own' another two great records but for me personally this debut effort encapsulates everything the band and their unqiue sound were about, before they sadly split in 2007, and I'd highly recommend it for anyone's abum collection out there!
Track 2 'Film-maker'
Track 5 'Who Needs Enemies?'
Track 9 'Been Training Dogs'
Bonus Track 'Sister Soul' taken from 'The Hardware EP'
Seen This Through and Staying