Stretched between two continents, His Clancyness John Clancy grew up on Italian soils and in Canadian cities, eventually setting up camp in Bologna. Before his current solo endeavour, he paddled with hardcore, punk and various indie outfits, ultimately opting to lurch out, lone wolf style, and produce fragile globules of synth pop introspection. Fond of bedroom recording and the lo-fi deluge that a 4-track brings, he carved a name for himself, with fans and critics alike praising Clancy for his dream-addled psych-tronica and pop frivolity masquerading as deep, swirling vortexes of melancholia.
His much-awaited debut long-player, entitled Vicious, whisks his noises away somewhere fresh. Recorded with other musicians – Clancy had previously stuck to a one-man-band scenario – there’s now considerably more zip, pep and snap to his once-meandering lo-fi dream-pop. Krauty motoriks permeate the shoegaze-lite harmonies, and it seems rather like Clancy is emerging from his frail shell, becoming a songwriter with oodles more confidence and self-awareness.
At times, you can hear the odd twang of early psych-gazers like Kitchens Of Distinction rattling around the guitar-led cages of sound. Even contemporary acts like acid house romantics Jagwar Ma, permanently gushing over the early ’90s, are felt. At other times, Clancy’s own calling-card timbre is more prevalent, and he relents back to a softer, denser form of synth balladry. The eclectic mix of sounds, and the fresh addition of irked gumption, makes for an enticing listen. Clancy is adept at creating tracks that twist and turn, veer and careen, starting in one place and ending somewhere entirely unexpected. This flippancy might be expected to render his LP identity-less, but it’s not so – everything is glazed in familiar threads, and while it might not be his ‘old’ style incarnate, there’s fragments that will link you back. He’s not completely changed.
Gold Diggers (sadly not a Kanye cover) draws out a dusty Americana as is so often the way with Stateside indie acts with a penchant for nostalgia. Clancy adopts jangly acoustic chords and Sunday morning percussion; everything feels very relaxed and contented. Zenith Diamond is the proprietor of chugging rock’n’roll axes, Vegas pomp and highlights Clancy’s abilities as a star in his in own right – quite removed form early material for sure, but this new side is a fascinating development. Fans of Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band will rejoice. Safe Around The Edges is another lick-heavy guitar-pop number. It’s a cosmopolitan affair, with hints of Foals, Julian Casablancas and Interpol here and there. Whilst the lyrics and thematic content on Vicious is still inward-glaring, it’s not the stereotypical maudlin anxiety-fest that might be associated with bedroom producers.
The end result of everything Clancy has put into this premiere effort is ruddy lovely. It’s a varied LP, never lingering too long in one place, but it does adhere to a certain palette, ensuring that it all sounds distinctly His Clancyness-y. It’s an ambitious, multi-faceted release that has the potential to appeal to a broad audience – it seems Clancy has been keen to move away from any pigeonholes. This is an astounding evolution that, if it continues along its current trajectory, will take His Clancyness to dizzying heights and exotic realms.