Natural History

I Am Kloot

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Natural History Review

by Tim DiGravina

Easily one of the most accomplished bands of the new acoustic movement, I Am Kloot has created one of the better albums in the genre with Natural History. Songwriters John Harold and Arnold Bramwell strike a highly successful balance between folksy acoustic numbers and mini rock epics throughout the album's 12 tracks. Catchy vocal passages crop up left and right, psychedelic guitar passages mingle readily with moments of quiet sublime romance, and the band isn't beyond throwing in the occasional refreshing jazz arrangement. It's not surprising that the music sounds as lush as it does, since Elbow frontman Guy Garvey produced, engineered, and mixed the album, along with offering snippets of harmonica, sound effects, some percussion, and backing vocals. Acoustic guitars, a somber bass, and hushed drums percolate slowly as they twist and twirl around Harold and Bramwell's vocals. Imagining I Am Kloot as a darker, acoustic lo-fi Oasis would seem to be entirely appropriate, and not just because there's a resemblance in their Mancunian accents. But this is a mini Oasis that occasionally moonlights in Robyn Hitchcock whimsy. Lyrically, there are loads of bizarre things going on, with disarmingly quirky lines like "Will someone somewhere marry me... to you," "There's blood on your legs, I love you," and "Twist, snap, I love you," rearing their heads at odd moments. These are clearly chaps who know how and when to turn a killer phrase. As endearingly quirky as some of the songs might be, there's an ample supply of beautiful ballads on hand to vary the mood. Weird near-genius standout tracks "To You" and "Twist" sit perfectly alongside the sweet, perfect "No Fear of Falling" and the eclectic, jazzy wonder of "Sunlight Hits the Snow." One senses that Garvey may be responsible for the occasional lapse into realms a bit too epic, but he and the band always manage to reel songs back in when they get too bombastic. Smart, catchy, at times ramshackle, and at other times desperately atmospheric and exotic, Natural History is a wonderful debut album.

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