I Am Kloot

Let It All In

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For this follow-up to I Am Kloot's lush and focused 2010 Mercury Music Prize-nominated album Sky at Night, the Manchester indie trio wisely retained Elbow's Guy Garvey and Craig Potter as producers. However, while that record gave the Johnny Bramwell-fronted band's sound a game-changing, string-laden makeover -- in the process nodding to Robert Kirby's work for Nick Drake's Bryter Layter -- Let It All In is a comparatively down-to-earth affair. Understated and succinct, with minor flashes of the band's trademark eccentricities, the spotlight here is most certainly on the material rather than how it's presented. Bramwell's deft acoustic guitar work forms the spine of the set, while the ever tasteful rhythm section supplied by Peter Jobson and Andy Hargreaves is given fair room to shine, just as it was on their outstanding Garvey-produced 2001 debut, Natural History. There's a sleazy, burlesque feel to the opening "Bullets" -- echoing that album's "Twist" -- which accentuates all the aspects of their knowing, brooding sound that can be regarded as uniquely Kloot: modestly delivered poetic wit, delicately picked guitar, carefully brushed drums, and melodic walking bass. Elsewhere, there are inspired and welcome reminders of Bramwell's favorite imagery, most noticeably on the tender and reassuring "Shoeless" where we hear: "Don't let the clouds clutter up your sky/Let the TVs turn off their weary eyes." However, as Let It All In reaches the halfway mark, although the ensuing material is equally inventive, there's the distinct feeling that I Am Kloot have decided to pay direct tribute to many of their northwest England forbears for the remainder of the record. While the elegiac "Even the Stars" approximates Tim Booth singing a different lyric to Joy Division's "Atmosphere," "Masquerade" unashamedly nails the Rubber Soul-era Beatles sound, right down to the nasally, Lennon-esque vocal delivery. Next, on the equally '60s pop-influenced "Some Better Day," we're treated to a full-blown, rainbow-colored, kitchen-sink drama in the vein of a latter period Davy Jones-fronted Monkees track, before "These Days Are Mine" ushers in a "Tomorrow Never Knows"-style drone. So, while overall, I Am Kloot's sixth album reads like a heartfelt and stylized ten-chapter celebration of classic pop -- with the opening half consolidating Bramwell's position as one of England's most unjustifiably overlooked songwriters -- it's only a minor disappointment that four of the final five chapters included here sail dangerously close to pastiche.

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