His Clancyness

Vicious

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    6
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After three years of releasing singles and cassettes that showed off a tenacious lo-fi pop charm, His Clancyness finally released a full-length album in 2013. Vicious was recorded in Detroit in a real studio and has a clarity and focus that were a little lacking on previous efforts. Jonathan Clancy's vocals are a little more upfront, the songs are more straightforward indie rock, and the production is sparse and punchy. It's a lot like a cleaner version of the other band he fronts, A Classic Education. And much like the work of that band, His Clancyness' songs work better when extracted from the album and played one or two at a time. That's not to say the album isn't enjoyable as a whole, but rather that the similar tone and feel of the songs tend to relegate Vicious to background music after a while. Very pleasant background music, but less than immediate and exciting all the same. The songs here to extract are the slow-creeping synth pop-meets-doo wop ballad "Slash the Night," which comes with a sense of dramatic danger one won't find elsewhere on the record, the hypnotic, Motorik "Machines," and the hard rocking (by comparison) "Zenith Diamond." Where Clancy and his bandmates (bassist Paul Pieretto and drummer Jacopo Borazzo) succeed the most is when they either dial the tempo and energy up, or drop them both way down (like on the queasily dreamy "Miss Out These Days.") It's the middle ground of midtempo, medium-energy songs that make up the bulk of the album that bring it down and flatten it out. A little more drama, a little more danger, a little more grit in the gears, less clarity and focus -- any one of these would have gone a long way toward making the record more than a pleasant bit of indie rock wallpaper. As it is, Vicious mostly drifts along, and with so many choices out there to fulfill indie rock listener's needs, you have to do more than that if you want to make an impression.

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