Clearlake is among the brilliant new guitar bands out of the UK, including British Sea Power and Idlewind. They have come to save a world trapped under the bloated corpses of warhorses like Oasis. Hailing from the English sea town of Hove, Clearlake follows in the steps of Blur and Pulp, but is far more aggressive, enlisting noise aside from harmony. But they’re less caustic than BSP or Idlewind, leaving Clearlake somewhere close to My Bloody Valentine but with less feedback. After two critically revered full-lengths, Amber is the record that finally proves what these lads can do. With the punch-you-in-the-face pop-fuelled single “Good Clean Fun” —with one of the most odd-sounding guitar breaks in years — and the punked-up Morrissey of “Getting Light Outside,” this band is not only great but also infuses a new sound that is beyond some one-off quirky appeal. Evoking British jangle and the misery of The Smiths along with Jesus and Mary Chain’s harmony over a noise tour-de-force, Amber is already a breakout record for the year. The disc moves easily through its variety of influences and yet manages to stay original without losing the cohesive scope of the overall sound. Not since the heyday of Teenage Fanclub and Supergrass has Brit guitar pop been this good. Clearlake jumps forth with an abrasive shot at the throat only to pull back and lean on ’60s Britpop for melody, and the disc is packed with sonic, yet at times bizarre, takes on post-punk-pop that feeds the craving for the old 4AD bands. This is essential listening for 2006.
—Trevor MacLaren
categories: Coast pick

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