Review : Clare and the Reasons - KR-51
ConsequenceofsoundClare and the Reasons’ new LP, KR-51 , is proof that beautiful music, accompanied by stunning vocals and first-rate musicianship, can still be very dull. In what appears to be a forced attempt to evolve beyond Francophile charm pop, Clare and the Reasons got experimental, dissonant, bare, and ultimately uninteresting. The Brooklyn foursome’s previous LP, Arrow, a sugary baroque pop gem with hints of experimentalism and jazz (combined with the contemporary critical success of more brooding, ornate pop music) may have compelled the band to reach to more sophisticated heights. The problem is that they were already there.
While the first seconds of each track on KR-51 are promising and stimulating, the lack of follow-through and direction ultimately kill the songs before they end. The album starts strong with “The Lake”, a successfully dramatic stab at freak folk; “Make Them Laugh”, which rides on Muldaur Manchon’s sometimes breathy, sometimes full vocals, soft drumming, and plucky acoustics; and “Westward”, a naturally evolving, filmic track filled with childish charm, whimsy, and lively transitions. After those three tunes, it’s all unfulfilled promises.
The bad on KR-51 is that identity is traded for experimentation, a bold but unsuccessful swap. With Clare and the Reasons’ literate, dramatic flair, the resulting effect is that of an orchestra trading in sheet music for a jam session. “Bass Face” is an annoying, directionless attempt at toying with space and repetition. “This Too Shall Pass” is a baroque fluff piece with dissonant banjos and sweeping cellos, which only amount to a foundationless overproduction. “Step in the Gold”, which begins delightfully fragile, eventually falls off the cliff as a mere Grizzly Bear knockoff. In other words, songs meander and are left to suffer in limbo. The next time Clare and the Reasons finally offer a transition of merit is on the melancholic, rising “Colder”, which also eventually ambles on for two minutes too long and dies of boredom....full text
PastemagazineHeaded by the husband and wife duo of Clare Muldaur Manchon and Oliver Manchon, Clare and the Reasons’ follow-up to 2009’s Arrow is a balanced mixture of feather-light vocals, expertly arranged instrumentation and witty, smart lyrics. The Brooklyn-based band has created something special for listeners with their third album, KR-51. Taking eight months to create, it skates over the lines of all genres to produce songs that are as unique as they are memorable.
KR-51 steps further away from the band’s 2007 debut, The Movie, but continues more in the direction of the pair’s sophomore album, Arrow. While there are some similarities, KR-51 allows for more sorrow and sadness to be felt with each swoon and every soar of the vocals and instruments alike. Clare’s ethereal, childlike voice is equal parts soothing and beautiful, with a melodic rhythm that is complemented by husband Oliver’s skillful arrangements. These can range from calming to catchy, depending on the track.
The album’s most redeeming quality is its unobtrusive nature, evoking the same comfortable familiarity as a favorite t-shirt: it floats around you like it just belongs there. Opening with the sweet melody of “The Lake,” Clare’s voice is the main attraction, never overpowered by the sophisticated orchestral sound and flow of background vocals. In “Make Them Laugh,” another talent of Clare and the Reasons is made obvious: that of a storyteller. Whimsical lyrics and vocals, accompanied early on by a light mixture of strings, paint a bittersweet and nostalgia-filled picture, transporting listeners to wherever it is the band wants to take them. Another favorite, the dark and mysterious “Bass Face,” makes it hard not to drum along as it goes from hard-hitting to poppy in seconds, keeping you guessing and wanting more. “PS” combines a catchy, slightly distorted guitar riff with pure, sing-song vocals to give the album a more experimental feel....full text
AmericansongwriterYou don’t need to know that the Brooklyn based Clare and the Reasons moved to Berlin and drove around that city on the titular model moped while recording their third album. But it helps provide some pertinent back story to music that can be as dark, imposing and complex as the city and a demanding listen. Those entranced by the avant chamber-pop classical stylings of Joanna Newsom will find this a similarly rewarding ride as Clare Muldaur Manchon’s trembling, fairy-ish voice glides over these dreamscapes that seem like soundtracks to some as yet unfilmed David Lynch movie. Easy listening this is not. Those up for the challenge and prepared to devote time into absorbing the intricate arrangements, elaborate orchestrations and dense lyrical themes in these eleven tracks will revel in the musical twists that make this such an unusual and to many, an erudite and unmitigated joy. The album is best absorbed gradually, likely over repeated plays with no distractions. Blasting this while manning your own moped may result in hazardous consequences....full text
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- 1. The Lake
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