I Am Kloot

Gods and Monsters

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With a title like Gods & Monsters, one expects I Am Kloot to pull out all the stops on their third album. Sadly, Johnny Bramwell and company seem asleep at the wheel, coasting lazily while offering what feels like 13-rough demos in search of hooks and compelling lyrics. Coming from a band that's known for off-kilter wordplay, musical immediacy, and dazzling changes of pace, these songs feel rushed and uninspired. "Over My Shoulder" might be the lone standout and perhaps the only song that recalls the charm of Natural History and the bright emotion of the band's self-titled second album. This is a band that in its press materials compares itself to Harold Pinter's realism in a world of Cecil B. DeMille mock-ups. These press materials also proclaim the band's "misanthropic and surreal wit" as a selling point, but there's nothing of the kind on display here. Instead, Gods & Monsters is an album of straightforward rock, pop, and folk songs that rely more on mood and atmosphere than on songwriting or melodies. The sparse production strives for the mad psychedelic vibes of the Franz Ferdinand set, but with most of the songs coming across like Badly Drawn Boy knock-offs, there's a constant sense that things simply aren't jelling. Instead one gets the impression he or she is listening to a series of jam sessions that never get off the ground. That Gods & Monsters isn't as warped and wired as the band's previous efforts shouldn't be mistaken for a newfound musical maturity. It's an album that's a step backward for a band that won its fans over with originality and songcraft.

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