Album Review: Clean Cut Kid – Felt

Felt

Released 5th May 2017

Words: Elena Katrina

Now I have, for the most part, removed myself from any responsibility of writing about bands that I am friends with but I’m the boss so I can make and break my own rules and quite frankly, I’m so in love with this that I want the responsibility this time around – and so I’m making it clear up front before you read this – that I love this band as people as well as for their music, but it wasn’t always that way, I started off as a fan and a supporter so I revert to that now.

Felt is the debut album from Liverpool’s Clean Cut Kid and to them it felt (no pun intended) like something that would never come around. Talking to Mike in October last year for our latest interview, he revealed how he wasn’t sure how it was all going to pan out but that they had pretty much recorded the album twice. That there says it all doesn’t it? A band so dedicated to getting things right for everyone, themselves included, that they put in all the hours and I mean they played 32 festivals last year! 32!! and still found time to record their album twice. As a proud long term fan of the band much of the album is known to me, it’s a solid collection of singles. When I say that I don’t just mean that they have released a lot of the tracks, I mean that each and every one is strong enough to be a single and that’s really not something you come across very often. These are not your average three chord pop songs either, they move in ways you just wouldn’t expect. There’s not always natural chord progressions, there are little moments in the new recordings of songs already familiar to me, that show off sounds I’d not heard before or tones to vocals I’d not picked out before. Bass lines that take me to places I’d not quite spotted before and a heartbeat of drums that resonate.

The lead single for Felt is Leaving You Behind, a strong indication of the theme that runs throughout the album. During an interview with Huw Stephens, Ev recently explained that the album has a bit of a concept behind it and explained certain singles, such as Vitamin C, couldn’t be left out as it didn’t work without it. Mike then explained the concept; “it runs from a relationship that falls apart as it gets to the middle, like the end of the A side and then when you flip over, We Used To Be In Love. So it’s like pre-break up, post-break up and the whole record runs chronologically from one relationship into another.”  So you can guess which side Leaving You Behind comes in.

The thing with the way Clean Cut Kid write, and in particular Mike’s lyrics, is that they manage to make everything so emotive but the music is smart and up front pop.  Take note of lyrics, like really take note as to what they are saying such as “all those impressions in my skin, all indentations of your lips… can’t measure love until you’ve lost it.” It’s easy to get caught up in the joyous melodies and the wonderful harmonies that are so uplifting and fulfilling but behind much of them is a sadness that belies those pretty catchy sing-along tunes. They also manage to switch it up and do the opposite. Take the lyrics to Mike’s ode to Ev, Evelyn. I now suddenly feel like the bench mark has been set for all men everywhere forever – I want my “Evelyn” moment. It makes me happy but yet somehow also makes me want to ball my bloody eyes out. It’s the coolest romantic gesture ever right? The lyrics are happy and celebratory but somehow there’s a sadness in the music which so peculiar for the sentiment but that’s what makes it cool and stops it from being any old soppy love song. This is a band that wears their heart on their sleeve, but their sleeve is tattooed and cool as fuck.

For those fans familiar with the band’s live set you’ll hopefully be thrilled with the album version of Brother Of Mine. Here you can really pick out the intricacies that don’t stand out so much during the live set. I love the production on this, the space around the vocals gives it such an edge and you know it builds up perfectly toward that guitar solo, the one that gives you goosebumps and makes you want to leap up and scream “hell yeah!” It’s always been a stand out moment during their set and this version sounds distinctively different so it feels fresh and fitting with the rest of the soundscape of Felt, which is ace for those of us who have been waiting for 2 years for the album, and for new fans it will make the live version feel immense – so basically it’s win win.

Of course they wouldn’t put out an album that didn’t have some brand new tracks on and the album’s title track Felt is one of those. This one penned by Evelyn, showing that this pair within Clean Cut Kid really do make a sickeningly good partnership on far too many levels than is really fair. I’m still so excited every time I hear this one, it reminds me of the second time I heard Vitamin C and felt this creeping feeling build inside me as the track went on. That was the moment I fell in love with Clean Cut Kid and Felt is the moment that cemented them as a real favourite rather than just a band I’m loving in the moment. I now want to hear more – I want more albums, more b-sides, more of everything really. I want more of this… feeling, even if it brings about a confusing mixture of tears and smiles, even if it hurts sometimes to listen to because they tap into things I’d rather leave forgotten, because, ultimately, regardless of that I’m always left feeling fulfilled and excited to listen. Talking of feelings…I also have one that suggests I might just get what I want because this is a smart, hard working band who know their sound, their stories are so relocatable and they build a soundscape like no one else out there.

Watch the video for Felt here:

Watch the video for Leaving You Behind here:

 

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    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

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