Synth pop is one of the dominant sounds of the British music scene at the moment, but it would be wrong to condemn Clor as a derivative band ready to cash in on the style of the day. For they have something far more original to offer, their music looking further afield for its reference points.
Sometimes it doesn’t appear to even have a reference point, the band indulging in fast moving chord sequences and basslines as if approaching a piece of modern jazz. Harmonies come and go in a flash, melodies are turned on their head and bass lines shift constantly with a hyperactive, nervous energy.
Singer Barry Dobbin gives the group a strong identity. His voice pitches somewhere close to Mull Historical Society‘s Colin MacIntyre in terms of timbre, occasionally fragile (as in the reserved Gifted) and then fuller in tone, as in the opener Good Stuff, with its exhortations to drink poisonous liquids through curly straws, coupled with the suggestiveness of lines like, “will you do it to me”. It’s a good, hedonistic start, setting out the blueprint of their electro sound; clean in the middle but rough round the edges. One to grab the attention early on, and it doesn’t let up once in the albums forty minutes.
The rougher approach lends a garage style to Magic Touch, a monotone track that suddenly springs into life with a wall of sound, like the White Stripes with more plugs. Dobbin and co-writer/lead guitarist Luke Smith produce some tangible and memorable lyrics, too. Love + Pain notes that, “wide-eyed, open mouthed, you look a little lost and found” over some nervy guitar work. Stuck In A Tight Spot suggests, “let’s get together, see how we do”. Indeed all the lyrics seem to derive from personal experience, always a plus.
Clor are a stylistic enigma, the type of band that encourage you to try and work them out, but when you think you’ve cracked it they come up with something else, like the near total drop in sound of Gifted, or the many pseudo-jazz workouts. Don’t be alarmed though – these rarely overindulge,rather they complement.
For some reason I was reminded of the soundtrack to the classic Steve Martin film The Man With Two Brains, in the way the music jumps around frenetically. There’s nothing quite so comedic about this though, more a pleasure to report that no one around sounds quite like Clor at the moment. If the band can hold on to that originality they could be in for something pretty special.