The drizzle thickens over the seaside town they forgot to bomb. A grey dusk descends early, the jumble sale browsers tighten their rainhoods. And in the distance,
out on the dilapidated pier, the muted tinkle of the fairground carousel endlessly whirling, riderless, in the dark.
Welcome to Clearlake: you’ll never leave. You’ll find it in
the damply romantic hinterland between ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ and ‘I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday’. It is a place of tiny, sublime desolations, where
cold baked beans taste like gourmet cuisine, and where Monday morning always looms. Clearlake’s euphoric, devastating, bittersweet debut LP has perfected Morrissey’s old trick of prising scintillating tragedy out of the dreary everyday and singing it like it’s the finale of The Great Music Hall Routine In The Sky.
Who could’ve imagined that grown men would weep at a song about a car boot sale that rips off the theme from [I]Last Of The Summer Wine[/I]? Hear ‘Jumble Sailing’ and blub. Or that a seven-minute searing, sun-scorched guitar maelstrom could be inspired by a Brighton sunset?
Yet here’s the gut-quaking ‘Winterlight’. From the existential traumas of [I]Ballykissangel[/I] versus [I]Heartbeat [/I](‘Sunday Evening’) to the pain in the arse that is getting out of bed of a morning (‘I Want To Live In A Dream’), Jason Pegg’s art is in taking the essential failings of Englishness – the laziness, the pessimism, the shit weather – and twisting them into noble and glorious attributes for a nation of proud and Herculean miserablists. Musically it’s maudlin Mogwai, effervescent Elbow, with a twist of ‘Strawberry Fields’. But in terms of sheer charm and lustre Clearlake leave their contemporaries out in the cold with nothing but a threadbare balaclava. And like rainy Sundays on deserted promenades, ‘Lido’ just isn’t long enough.