BY DREW LACOUTURE
Clock Opera returns with a different label backing them and a more distinguished sound that indie rock bands should welcome. This British quartet has not been seen as the most necessary group because their knack of blending piano rock and electronic sounds with soothing vocals is shared by so many groups like them. While “Ways to Forget” was not a bad record, “Venn” is a more exciting listen and has the band coming into their own.
This is mainly due to its more punchy instrumentation, more catchy choruses and dynamically strong structures. Though these qualities are featured in this newest album, they also use a slightly more minimal sound for Andy West’s guitar, which does not carry much of a presence.
There are two significant elements that carry a large weight here—one is Opera’s use of off-kilter harmonies in the back drop of many tracks, something that was previewed on “Ways to Forget.” The track “Changeling” opens with these spooky orchestra melodies while “Pervish” has a toy piano playing through the track and the closer “When We Disappear” contains several unexpected sounds. All of them work nicely into the tracks and it helps this record stand out a bit more.
The second is the bass which has a very synthesized, deep and loud sound that only really works on the track “Tooth and Claw,” mainly because the rest of the band follows the same pattern. The bass becomes obnoxious on the house-inspired “Ready or Not,” and the band The War On Drugs influenced “Hear My Prayer.” It is a silly trend in underground music that is quickly getting old.
The album opens with the seductive and stellar “In Memory,” which contains Guy Connelly’s best vocal performance besides the energetic “Dervish.” If anyone thinks that he sounds like Nicholas Petricca from Walk The Moon, that person is not alone.
The standout track, though, is “Whippoorwill,” with its beautiful textures and tight performances that make the track sound like a stripped back Bloc Party song. “Closer” is also a fantastic single with some intense guitar licks and a battle cry theme. The weakest song would be “Cat’s Eye,” mainly due to its lackluster lyrics and awful mixing.
Despite having mostly good songs, the first half is quite better than the second half. Thankfully, the album closes with the suspenseful “When We Disappear,” and ends it all with a bang that is reminiscent of how Coldplay would close an album. It is clear where their influences come from, and that will irritate or please listeners.
Clock Opera has not perfected their sound, but has surely elevated it from their debut. There is still a lot of potential in these guys, and asking any band to do something new in the oversaturated music market that we have is quite difficult. Hopefully rock/alternative radio stations will acknowledge “Closer,” and Clock Opera will ditch the overly dubbed bass on their next record.
The Flyer gives “Venn” a 7/10.