I Am Kloot - Sky At Night

TC 09/07/2010

Rating: 4.5/5

Over a decade down the line and I Am Kloot have managed to keep themselves well out of the limelight up to now! Their only crime is the fact that they have, frankly, been somewhat unremarkable. They're the kind of band that fit the 'nice' tag too neatly, with a decent back catalogue and cameo appearances on a variety of compilation albums. You will all have heard (and probably liked) something by the band, but might not know it! Well all of that may be about to change.

This is the band's fifth studio album and the previous one, I Am Kloot Play Moolah Rouge, was a low key affair that probably served to take them further away from the mainstream. Much has been made of the fact that Guy Garvey has been drafted in on production duties for Sky At Night, prompting remarks on him potentially bringing out an Elbow influence and it is easy to draw comparison, like on lyrics such as “Do you fancy a drink? I know a place called the brink, do you want to go there?” and the general bleakness. But hang on a minute, that IS the sound of I Am Kloot and here's an interesting fact: their debut album came out just a few weeks prior to Elbow's and was produced by….Guy Garvey.

Lyrical depth has always been one of the band's trade marks, with a tainted view of love's downfalls and complications. Lyricist and front man John Bramwell refers to it as black comedy, saying “Love is a great thing, it's just that it comes with some baggage”. Musically, the band are predominantly acoustic, granting prominence to Bramwell's beautifully pitched sorrowful vocal style. The clever augmentation of strings adds at times a delicate balance and then at others a thrusting presence, with keyboards providing the core melancholy. This brings sophistication to the sorrow, resulting in an optimistic uplifting. Take opening track Northern Skies which comes on like Glen Campbell, with a subtle jauntiness, then The Moon Is A Blind Eye, a moving romantic slant on the frailties of life, “We may dig amongst rocks and stones to find a fragment of the past, we may consecrate our ruins in praise of how they last.” But the magnum opus here is Radiation, a piece of pure beauty starting with a barren vocal over a sombre organ, which then rises to a rich orchestral movement into the repetition of “Everything we ever thought we'd ever want, me and you, it just came true”, sounding oh so much like Sgt. Pepper era Lennon. A wonderfully composed and arranged song exuding true hope and belief.

The Manchester trio have made a staggering leap forward and produced their most complete work yet, by some way. The 'assist' from Garvey might give them a leg up, but the finished article is all theirs. Elbow gathered the much coveted/maligned Mercury Prize two years ago with their own leap forward, The Seldom Seen Kid. Sky At Night puts I Am Kloot right in line to achieve a similar feat (you read it here first!). A moving album to be cherished and worshiped and if you're quick, The Guardian is currently streaming the whole thing for free via the link below:-

Release date: 05/07/10