Sunny piano-led indie-pop doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing in the world, and that’s because, well, it isn’t. Depending on who you talk to, anything from a Deal or No Deal marathon to finding an extra gherkin on your Big Mac is more exciting, but that’s sort of the point; it’s a straightforward genre which in its way might be just as resistant to change as classic punk. But with less spitting.
And Clemency do it well. Sidestepping the soggy limpness of Keane or the eyelid-drooping powers of Coldplay, on debut album ‘You’ve Got The Fire’ the band run through six slices of rousing, if predictable, indie-pop which feels like it’s one prime-time advert soundtrack away from being huge. Oklahoma brothers Jason and Paul Watkins crafted the record in Nashville, and the music is all the better for its subtle transatlantic timbres. After all, they can sing sunshine tunes from experience, not from photographs.
From the second the pure elation of opener ‘Color Hit The Canvas’ slaps against the ear, this record is a watertight showcase of the Watkins’ formidable song writing talents, driven by stadium-sized drums and iced with a sweetness which is pure cane sugar, not Splenda. There’s no denying that the pop sensibilities win out over everything else, and were it not for the intelligence and depth of the music over which the vocals soar the airbrushed harmonies would start to grate. There is a perfectly-judged earworm chorus on each track, and that can only be commended, but something feels a little too perfect, a little contrived, as the record wears on.
That’s not to say this is a bad record. People (including your mum) will flock to it in droves, especially if it hits the airwaves, and they could do a lot worse. ‘Runaways’ moves with irresistible momentum, ‘When I’m With You The Fireworks Go Off’ makes magnificent use of its piano and ‘Heaven in the World We Know’ is a tender, if clichéd, heartstring-tickler. It seems a fitting end to a record which feels purpose-built for montages and mixtapes; in short, instances in which it plays a supporting role to something more significant. I have my doubts as to whether it’s able to stand on its own two feet, but I suppose I’ll be eating my words when 10,000 people raise a warm cider to it at this summer’s festivals.
Words - Joe Ponting
Released February 10th 2015