Cooper Temple Clause - Kick Up The Fire, And Let The Flames Break Loose

Like the Manic's Nicky Wire, the Cooper Temple Clause are admirers of the work of the poet Philip Larkin and the title of the long awaited follow up to their debut "See This Through And Leave" is a line from one of Larkin's poems. To follow up a successful and well received album is no easy task. The pressure is on to satisfy the fans and hopefully keep the hard to please music critics happy as well.

"New Toys" has gentle soothing keyboards and a nursery rhyme style structure. The vocals are overlaid, but not in an obstructive nature, giving the piece a natural ambience. TCTC don't forget their raucous rock n roll roots as guitars crash in resembling in an unusual oddity, a bit like Mansun (RIP) in their experimental "Six" phase. "Blind Pilots" is a realistic yet dark love song with a lyrical edge veering towards the profound and meaningful. It's cinematic in scope and rich in ambition making it quite sad, but certainly memorable. "Music Box" has an unassuming quite intro, not dissimilar to Radiohead's current appreciation of the obscure, painstakingly building up the dramatic tension as the melody creeps in amongst the chaos of the crashing guitars.

The band aren't afraid of accusations of pretension when "Written Apology" clocks in at a progtastic ten minutes ten seconds. Self indulgent maybe, but it's a curiously welcome idea. There's crooning and a swooning late night, early morning ambience a plenty. The piano, acoustic guitar embrace a deceiving easy listening quality a bit like Elbow with a technological breakthrough. Then as if they've run out of ideas entirely fill the last five minutes of the track with urgent synths, space age noise and an unprecedented barrage of techno. Certainly different, that's for sure.

"Kick Up The Fire, And Let The Flames Break Loose" has the menace of Massive Attack, the confidence of studio enhancement and leaps and bounds of coherent ideas. It may lack the furious, frenetic pace of it's debut, but as an unexpected and brave attempt at branching out into unfamiliar territory TCTC have succeeded in making a complex and and commanding album.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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