February 19, 2004

Clearlake "Cedars"

Clearlake is a product of the 1990s Britpop era. There's no other way to say it. If it hadn't been for Suede, Pulp, Oasis and Blur, then a band like this wouldn't have been possible. (Well, okay, it might have, but still...) The music is spot-on, torn between lush arrangements and driving rhythms. Occasionally, Clearlake turns bombastic--not as bad as Suede, but still overbearing--but such moments are few and far between. Still, such obvious facts should not stand in the way of something that's quite obvious: Clearlake's a great band. "Almost the Same," which kicks off the album, has such a wonderfully frantic pace, and tempered with some rather apologetic lyrics. Lead singer Jason Pegg is downright sincere when he croons "Fine, I'll admit I may be wrong/But I never knew that we'd get along/It's hard to believe although now I can see/That you're almost the same as me." It's a wonderful start to an album that explores regret, sadness and heartbreak, and other songs such as the rocking "Can't Feel a Thing"--with a vocal melody that's reminiscent of "(Don't Fear) The Reaper"--and the heartbreaking "Keep Smiling" keep the melancholy alive and the mood thought-provoking. All in all, Cedars is a nice little bout of British sadness and fog. Recommended for those moments when you need to be pensive and Morrissey's too strong.

--Joseph Kyle

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