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microClocks: Soon Before Sundown

There are many albums where a great set of songs is ultimately let down by a small production budget, ropey sound or muddy mix. It's an accusation that could never be levelled at microClocks, the sound on Soon Before Sundown, clear, crisp and in places larger than life. It's an aspect of this release that allows vast swathes of atmosphere to rain down from on high and soak everyone within earshot in a cleverly vast array of sounds and effects.

Disappointingly, what it doesn't ensure is that microClocks have the songs to truly thrive in this unforgivingly stark setting, because if there are other things that a tip-top production allows, it's no place to hide, or any excuses. Hence that even after many spins of this band's classic rock meets electro via some industrial stylings, that none of it actually sticks in the mind, really has to be down to an unspectacular set of songs. Not bad mind, the album's title cut building on a U2 like surge of chiming guitars and quickening drums, before a swirl of keys reminds of Deep Purple. Oddly however, all of this is set precariously atop thumping bass drum blasts, droning guitars and vocals which are, throughout the album, delivered in a reasonably monotone rumble. It's as though The 69 Eyes had all their threat removed, or as if Nine Inch Nails decided to try and write chart hits.

"Love's End" again comes to life in interesting fashion, layers of keys setting an enigmatic base where JT's vocals sound more at home. A riff suddenly judders into being, without ever really threatening to bring everything to life, before a six string solo from Marc Dorman seems to forget its surrounds and heads off wherever it fancies. Frustratingly, the peripheral arrangements are pretty classy, strings twirling beneath the seemingly unchanging vocals and guitar hums on "The Edge", and the excellently poised guitar and keyboard interplay (the latter from Stevie Jay) on "Nothing But A Thought" resulting in a shimmering, enigmatic highlight. However, even with an expert eye also cast in this direction, there still aren't any real standout moments on an album that's never bad, but just proves all too forgettable.

So yes, the production on Soon After Sundown by microClocks is excellent, in fact it sounds like a million bucks. It's just a shame that even with that key aspect in their favour, the songs themselves leave you feeling decidedly short changed.

Track Listing
1. Follow The...
2. White Rabbit
3. Soon Before Sundown
4. Love's End
5. The Edge
6. Here I Am
7. Life Is Grim
8. Confession
9. Nothing But A Thought
10. To A Friend
11. Raptor

Added: February 20th 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: microClocks online
Hits: 1290
Language: english

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