June 28, 2003

Epicycle "Swirl"

Everybody has them. You know what I'm talking about: a dorky, "who's he trying to fool" uncle, who, in your mind, walks around as if he's the coolest thing since sliced bread, and is slightly embarassing to you. Of course, when you get older and you understand what your uncle was going on about, you realize that, yeah, he was cool as hell. Ellis and Tom Clark, the brothers and masterminds behind Epicycle, are probably someone's dorky uncles, but they're pretty damn cool.

See, the Clark brothers may not be household names, but if you're a lover of literate indie-pop, you may be quite familiar with their work. They've produced wonderful records by the Chamber Strings, June & The Exit Wounds, and, most notably, Kevin Tihista's Red Terror's critically acclaimed Don't Breathe A Word. With an extensive resume of studio productions, you've probably heard their work before, and if that's any indication of their abilities, then you'd expect Swirl to be similiarly wonderful, right?

Yeah. And, for the most part, you'd be right.

Apparently, Epicycle's a project that they don't mind waiting on, and we certainly don't mind the wait, if it means that they're too busy producing other wonderful records. I really don't have a problem with that, if it means that the world is blessed with another Don't Breathe A Word, then waiting is just fine. As you'd expect, Swirl tends to lean on the side of light, bright, literate pop, drenched with a heady dose of melody, a heapin' helpin' of harmony, and a dash of prog. Yeah, it's like that. And it's really, really good, too.

Swirl opens with "Rings," a song that has a chorus that sounds a bit like Super Furry Animals' "Rings Around The World" (but as the song dates from 1981, you can't accuse them of rippin' off SFA), which gives way to a very odd song, David Bowie's "Rubberband." The weirdness flows into pure proggy pop pleasure of "Crash," followed up by the jazzy baroque Smileish pop of "Sunday Girl"--not the Blondie song, but I bet that they could really do it justice, too. That's pretty much par for the Swirl course, a wonderful mix of the awesome and the absurd, the silly and the sweet, the weird and the wonderful.

If anything, Swirl is an excellent catalog of the Clark brothers' abilities. If two fellows can be this odd, this wild, this diverse, at the very least, Swirl makes an excellent case for why you should choose them to produce your album. It would be lazy of me to say, "I cannot fully do this album justice, you really have to hear it to appreciate Swirl's countless nooks and crannies," but I've always been a bit of a slacker. So, I'll admit right now that I cannot fully do this album justice, you really have to hear it to appreciate Swirl's countless nooks and crannies.

--Joseph Kyle

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