February 10 2017 (!K7 Records)
Words: Richard O’Hagan
After almost five years, Londoners Clock Opera have finally got around to releasing a follow up to debut album ‘Ways to Forget’. With any band, there’s always a danger that going such a time between records will cause memories of them to fade, but frontman Guy Connelly is blessed with a voice so distinctive – part Mark Hollis, part Brendon Urie – that it is hard to forget about him.
The same goes for the band’s sound. ‘Venn’ is, remarkably, even more ‘Bastille on downers’ than its predecessor was, and the lyrics deal with some very dark themes of loss and mourning along the way. Although that sound is still largely synth-driven, there are surprising moments when a tumbling drumbeat or a booming bassline burst through from the overall swooshiness of it all and take you by surprise, revealing that, underneath the electronic fug and mournfulness, this is the work of serious musicians at play.
That said, ‘Venn’ is still a rather patchy work. Lead single ‘Whippoorwill’ is perhaps the lightest touch on the album, whilst the pulsating ‘Dervish’ lives up to its name in all respects. Other tracks, though, are simply forgettable, with the closing ‘When We Disappear’ seemingly attempting to lift the mood of the rest of the record in a way that is both predictable and unnecessary.
‘Venn’ is an ambitious record and, although Connelly might sing that “We’ve all got what we wished for” (‘In Memory’), that isn’t really the truth here. Clock Opera have achieved plenty, though, and it would be a shame if we had to wait until 2022 to hear from them again.