I Am Kloot, hailing from Manchester, UK, has been one of those bands that has been on my radar for quite some time, but has never stopped me in my tracks and made me really want to listen… that is, until recently – seemingly a common trend as of late. I headed over to the “Guardian” website, where the latest album has been streamed (link), and I have to say that I was more than impressed. “Sky at Night” (5 July 2010 in the UK, available in the USA as import 13 July 2010) is one of those subtle albums that really paints a picture with lyrics and creates mood with music. And perhaps, like fellow Mancunian bands Doves and Elbow, they are poised now for more recognition, but what I like about the album is that it was not composed for this end. This is music written for the sake of music… that may very well end up being a timeless jewel worth listening to again and again.
Five albums into their career, they seem to have coalesced into one of the broodiest bands out at the moment; luckily, they have not given into gloominess. Much is always made about bands that have been around for years and have not garnished the praise of the mainstream, but that is not a curse in the least. Actually, in most cases, it is welcomed, because existing in the fringes allows artists to create music that is poignant and distinct, not to mention urgent and relevant, and not part of any bandwagon. And that can be said about “Sky at Night.” This has nothing in common with the current trends, and it is evidence that many artists are not interested in making musical references to the 80s.
The album opens with “Northern Skies,” which musical intricacies are mirrored by the lyrical intricacies; it becomes quickly apparent that I Am Kloot “upped” their game for this album. But I was convinced of what a great album this was the moment I head “Fingerprints”: “If Heaven is a place upon your skin that I may have touched from without to within, then dust yourself of fingerprints and grin… and grin.” This is poetic narration at its best, set to a beautiful guitar arpeggio, the occasional piano, and moody strings. This is the kind of narrative song that really grips the attention and imagination. I will say this simply: lyrically I would rank the lyrics with some of the greats out there, like Dylan and Smith.
The most touching song on the album, the lachrymose bit of poetry, is “I Still Do”: “When I was a boy, I looked out at the sea, thought I saw you and me in the waves on a breeze… I still do, still do.” Set to an acoustic guitar, stripped down compared to the other tracks, the hope is belied by the feeling of lost and isolation that the song inspires. The ninth track, “Radiation,” is epic in proportion, with the slowest and most drawn out build-up of any song on the album. As every layer of music works it way in, the anxiety builds, but subsides when the beat finally drops. “Everything we ever thought we ever want, me and you, well it just came true,” affirms the chorus, and though the song is anything but happy-go-lucky-bubble-gum-pop, there is a definite sense that a smile is starting to build, that there might just be light at the end of the tunnel.
Granted, I Am Kloot may not have moved worlds away from what they were doing, but they did perfect it. And quite often, the journey for musicians is to reach that point of perfection. As the album closes with “Same Shoes,” and you are enjoying the jazzy feel, you really start to appreciate the subtle intricacies of “Sky at Night.” For those like me who have heard their past efforts, it may just be time to reconsider what we have thought about this band. And for those who have never heard of I Am Kloot, this is a perfect starting point. Head over to “Guardian,” check out the album, and if you are as convinced as I am, then support the band and get the album.
1. Northern Skies
2. To the Brink
5. I Still Do
6. The Moon Is a Blind Eye
8. It’s Just the Night
10. Same Shoes
Keep up with I Am Kloot at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here is their video for “Northern Skies” from their YouTube Channel: iamklootmedia.