Will Wallace

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

10th June 2005
reviewer: Will Wallace
rating: 5 out of 5
published by: Morning Records
released: 8th September 2003
  1. The Same Mistakes
  2. Promises, Promises
  3. New Toys
  4. Talking To A Brick Wall
  5. Into My Arms
  6. Blind Pilots
  7. A.I.M.
  8. Music Box
  9. In Your Prime
  10. Written Apology

Ah, The Cooper Temple Clause; the band that launched a thousand haircuts. With their oh-so-trendy punk-meets-new wave look, the band could have been an easy target for “style over substance” attacks, but thankfully their debut LP, 2002’s ‘See This Through And Leave’ had more than enough substance to see off the critics. An innovative mix of rock and electronica, it won the band a loyal following – but nearly two years have passed since, and the rock scene is now dominated by retro acts like The Darkness and The White Stripes. So how will The Clause’s progressive electro sound fare?

First impressions of ‘Kick Up The Fire…’ are a little underwhelming. Gone are the heavy guitar riffs of the first album’s ‘Film-Maker’ or ‘Been Training Dogs’, replaced instead by a moodier, more introspective sound. Album opener ‘The Same Mistakes’ is awash in synthetic strings, and eventually gathers speed before lurching into the first single, ‘Promises Promises’, one of the album’s few truly rockin’ tracks.

Things carry on in the same vein, with most songs following the “start quiet, get louder” formula. There are moments of real energy – the end of ‘Music Box’ sounds a lot like Rage Against The Machine, for example – but this new more thoughtful approach means ‘Kick Up The Fire…’ takes a few listens to get into. Once you do get into it, however, it proves to be just as listenable as the debut, and even more interesting.

Just after the band’s promotional activities for ‘See This Through And Leave’ had ended, they released ‘A.I.M.’ as a limited-edition one-track single available only through the NME. Compared to the first album it sounded weak, directionless; it sounded like a b-side. But the song returns here in re-recorded form, and it makes a lot more sense in this context. Built around a crunchy synth loop and vaguely breaks-ish drums, it’s possibly the best thing on the album.

Overall this album sees The Cooper Temple Clause moving forward. Making a little less noise, thinking a little more. It’s an album of ominous, rumbling bass and twinkling glockenspiels; of skittering drum machines and broken guitars; of failing relationships and angry disappointment; but mostly it’s an album about pushing rock music forward, about trying new things. It’s maybe not a classic, but it shows us where rock could be heading in the future, and for that alone the band should be proud.