New! Eclectic! And from Reading, too! Meet the new guitar breed...
Here they come, the young men with the unwieldy name and topiary haircuts,
waving the flag for revitalised UK guitar rock 2002. They have last year’s
most idiosyncratic Top 40 hit, ‘Kill All Music’ under their second-hand
belts, and a (deserved) reputation for bone-rattlingly bonkers live
performances. Still, they’re an unlikely bunch. Cooper Temple Clause don’t
so much [I]kill[/I] music as deconstruct and reanimate it like deranged Dr.
Frankentein’s stitching together limbs from every conceivable genre onto a
twitching post-rock torso. As a result, their debut album ‘See This
Through…’ is a defiant, often thrilling, monstrosity.
There are so many ideas crammed into this record that within the first three
minutes you’ll be asking if it’s the same band, much less the same song,
you1re listening to. CTC ricochet around like rocks in a tumble dryer, and
although it1s difficult to find anything to cling to, their schizoid fusion
of influences is impressive and their energy is relentless. The click and
thud of techno coexists with propulsive Primals rock’n’roll in ‘Prazer
Attack’, ‘Who Needs Enemies?’ is like an uglier Oasis covering Portishead,
and ‘Did You Miss Me?’ start sweet and spangly before ballooning into a
sinister, bloated stalker-anthem. Throughout, there are shades of everyone
from Floyd to The Pixies, Spiritualized to Supergrass, Cheap Trick to
Zeppelin. The only consistent elements are a prodigious, agitated wall of
sound and Ben Gautrey’s raw-throated vocals.
It takes guts to be unfashionable, and CTC are patently unaffected by the
zeitgeist – wearing their patchouli proudly in an arena full of Calvin
Klein. They simply do what they do, and we can take it or leave it. There’s
no obsequious genuflection to the current vogue for trad-retro revivalism.
Some songs trail on for eight minutes plus, and there’s no discernible tune
on the whole album. The only contemporary band CTC are comparable to,
possibly, is Muse, as both embrace ludicrous excess with shameless
enthusiasm. And neither, apparently, are afraid of looking ridiculous.
While a band that manages to reference both Ogden Nash and the Moody Blues
can’t be all bad, chances are they’re not all good either. CTC do have
weaknesses, and being unfocused is certainly one of them. It’s also strange
that for all its emotional-sounding contortions, this records still feels so
hollow. ‘See This Through…’ is more for the head than the heart (though
exactly whose head is hard to say). The only thing heartening is that such a
complex and unconventional sound can be making populist impact – not only
puncturing the charts, but landing CTC with a video spot virtually every
five minutes on MTV2 for ‘Been Training Dogs’. Their appeal may be difficult
to define, but they’ve definitely got it.