x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

I Am Kloot shows independent voice on Let It All In

The English band's new album is a stripped-down affair that pours focus on their famed lyrical flair.

John Bramwell takes a vulnerable vocal style that may surprise fans of more robust indie rock. Joel Ryan / AP Photo
John Bramwell takes a vulnerable vocal style that may surprise fans of more robust indie rock. Joel Ryan / AP Photo

I Am Kloot
Let It All In
Shepherd Moon
***

Many bands have made it big on the coat-tails of more established acts, particularly in the communally creative city of Manchester. Every so often a Joy Division, Stone Roses or Oasis will inspire a whole scene of ambitious local bands, and a rush of producers people keen to sign them.

I Am Kloot are often lumped in with that post-Oasis surge, but actually emerged after the Britpop bubble burst, into a late 1990s musical landscape jaded by northern guitar bands. It took a series of fortunate events to belatedly raise their profile.

First, their Mancunian contemporaries Elbow enjoyed their own overdue resurgence. The Elbow lead singer Guy Garvey then championed I Am Kloot and produced their fifth album, Sky at Night, which raised their profile significantly. The record's subsequent nomination for the influential Mercury Prize "brought us a whole new audience", the band's frontman John Bramwell said recently.

And yet Kloot eschew the majestic, operatic sound of Garvey's group in this latest album, although he again produces alongside his Elbow bandmate Craig Potter. Let It All In is a stripped-down affair that pours focus on Bramwell's famed lyrical flair, and it's clear from the first few bars that his trio remain intent on ploughing their own, contrary furrow.

Far from the traditional bombastic opener, Bullet is a brooding cabaret blues number that could easily have been sung by a femme fatale in a vintage film noir. Adherents of more robust indie rock may baulk at the album's downbeat tone - and Bramwell's vulnerable vocal style.

Like many Lancashire acts, his songwriting was heavily inspired by The Beatles, most evident here on the soot-soaked, trumpet-laden Some Better Day. Missing the Britpop era has done the band no harm; where Oasis' tales of everyman excess became detached from reality, Kloot's years in the wilderness add extra poignancy to a song such as Shoeless. "Ceaseless are the hours you keep, you ride the tides, the waves of sleep," warbles the world-weary singer.

The Elbow influence pokes forth on occasion, notably the orchestral denouement of Hold Back the Night and a familiar wall of sound on These Days are Mine, while Even the Stars is an enjoyably shameless production steal from another Manchester classic, Joy Division's Atmosphere. We can now happily add Let It All In to that city's admirable musical canon.