Cooper Temple Clause : See This Through And Leave

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.

April Long

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