I first came across London-based four piece Clock Opera back in 2012 when they donned the main stage at Sheffield’s tramlines festival. Their blend of electronic and indie pricked up my ears immediately, and I remember thinking how much they stood out from so many other bands around at the time. Their debut album ‘Ways To Forget’ came out the same year, and affirmed my status as a fan. Over the last couple of years, there have been teasers that the ‘difficult’ second album was on its way. The uber slick leading single ‘Changeling’ dropped in 2015, and it’s taken till February of this year to get the new long player out. And it’s a whole different creature to their debut.
‘Ways To Forget’ was for the most part a very positive, uplifting album. There were several tracks that had a stadium filling sound, probably hence why they sounded so good live. There are many elements on ‘Venn’ that carry across from the their debut; the synth-heavy production, the crazy falsetto vocals. But this time they have a much darker sound. They have taken a similar sidestep as Guillemots on their album ‘red’, or arcade Fire on ‘Reflecktor’. Right from the offset with opening track ‘In Memory’, it’s clear to see that the boys are moving in a new direction. The song has a real sense of subtlety, and breaks things down to the bare bones. There’s a vulnerability to the vocals that we’ve not heard from them before, that continues through the album, like on tracks such as latest single ‘Whippoorwill’. It’s been a while since the release of ‘Changeling’, but it inevitably had to be included, and sits in the first half of the album to get things moving nicely. It couldn’t be more perfectly named. ‘Changeling’ was the first move in their new direction, and was for me the best thing they’ve recorded so far.
‘Venn’ moves around in more directions than their debut. ‘Closer’ adopts a more mathy sound, that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Foal’s album. Good to see they can rock out too, but it still sits on a level with the rest of the album. It’s the slick production that ties all the song together. There are really soulful elements on the album like ‘Ready or Not’. But then on the other side, there are songs that you can dance to. Take ‘Disobey’ and ‘Cat’s eye’ which sit somewhere in-between everything Everything and Yazoo. There’s a lot of different sounds and ideas thrown in, all of which seem to fit well together.
‘Ways To Forget’ was a great introduction to the band. It was catchy, anthemic and featured a track list of songs that would sound good at festivals and live venues alike. It was the album they needed to make at that point in their career, and no doubt earn them their well-deserved fan base. ‘Venn’ seems like the natural progression. Whilst they carved a sound for themselves on the debut, ‘Venn’ takes the foundations they built, and creates something longer lasting.
‘Venn’ is out Friday 10th February.