CLT DRP – ‘NOTHING CLEVER, JUST FEELINGS’

By Ian Kenworthy

If you’re hopelessly naïve or bad at hangman, there’s a chance you haven’t figured out how to say CLT DRP. Here’s a clue, their debut album is called ‘Without The Eyes’, and if you still haven’t worked it out, give it a listen. They think their name’s marvellous, and absolutely delight in explaining it you. This means there’s a strange tension; they’re a creative force who thinks they’re funny. Now, maybe the joke has worn thin or maybe they’re acknowledging their growth but they’re calling their second album ‘Nothing Clever, Just Feelings’ and leaving the interpretation to you.

If all this is going a bit over your head, CLT DRP are a post-punk trio made up of drums, vocals and weird guitar sounds that toe the line between electronics and riffs. It’s a frequently angular sound mixing punk rock and dance beats, as easy to tap your toes to as to raise your fists. This new record shifts direction slightly, leaning more heavily on the former, with a greater sense of style. While it’s cut from the same cloth as their debut and features many similar sounds, this is calmer and more atmospheric, but it feels so dirty and lived-in. Where their older music is angular, this is less antagonistic, more creative but not as combative. In other words, it’s the streamlined CLT DRP experience.

On the one hand, the music here is experimental but on the other, it’s delightfully accessible. Scott Reynolds’ guitar is heavily processed, yet the underlying riffs mean you can tell it’s clearly a guitar, despite never sounding like one. Fans of Tom Morello might recognise some of the sounds he rings from it, often resembling an Audioslave guitar solo, a tuneless Bloc Party or a rhythmless Nova Twins. The highlights come when he switches between soundscapes and riffs on ‘I See My Body Through You’. It’s vicious and foreboding and the intense guitar stabs could be used to soundtrack a disaster movie, but it’s not the only song like this and the whole album is filled with an intoxicating atmosphere. However, the biggest trick is that drummer Daphne Koskeridou plays the songs with so much groove, they would almost work without the strange guitar-sound garnish. Take the title track for instance, which bops along accompanied by what could be two ball bearings bouncing around in a blender before she strong-arms you into the chorus and tries her best to give you concussion. It’s a careful display of power, and fascinating mixture of the band’s key sounds, and a contrast to the way ‘Daily Affirmations’ relies on the underlying cadence more than the music or even the lyrics. Really, it’s all about the vibes.

Strangely, the album opens with ‘NEW BOY’ dropping you in mid-verse with a sound like someone rhythmically stomping on a modem until they finally murder it during the breakdown. It’s a horrible start, and has the same effect as plunging you into the guitar solo on Audioslave’s ‘One And The Same’ without prior warning, but it works as a test. It’s a ‘if you can’t love me at my ugliest, you don’t deserve me at my best’ moment – ‘ugliest’ in this case being used to mean ‘least accessible’ and not ‘bad’, because it really isn’t, it just feels weirdly placed. Of course, there’s a possibility that it’s the only place the song fits as subsequently the band explores a far deeper sonic palette.

Simple beats and loops create an undeniable sense of motion throughout but the 8-bit-games-console electronics of ‘Desire / 1 on 1’ sees the band at their most danceable with the rapid tumble of vocals feeling like there’s almost too much to say. It signals the start of the album’s second half by flirting with its real calling card – atmosphere. Beginning with ‘Cake 4 The Women’, the band dive into their deepest and most effective work to date. Indeed, the record is designed to suck you from ‘Daily Affirmations’ into ‘The Door’ and then flow into ‘Easier Than This’ which feels like a single, carefully evolving art piece. It’s delightfully elegant and something they really haven’t explored until now.

Annie Dorrett makes for a fascinating vocalist and, by using a variety of sounds and styles, really compliments what the music is doing. Using staccato yells on ‘NEW BOY’ and sultry roars on ‘I See My Body Through You’ they keep the momentum going, while the sung ‘Easier Than This’ creates a tense, endearing tone. When they whisper “I just want to write a pop song” it feels like you’re being let in on a big secret and, in fact, every song’s raison d’etre. This is notably true on the softly-sung parts of the title track or the pop-music rhythms of ‘Cake 4 The Women’ which feel effortlessly free and helps reinforce the band’s atmospheric stylings.

While the first record dwelled on observations, this time the lyrics focus more on ways of seeing and of being observed. This is notable on ‘M.U.T.M.’ where the music throbs dangerously while Dorrett describes masturbating. Without breaking the moment, electronic pulses tingle and tease through the backing and only underline its lyrical themes.

The final track ‘I Put My Baby To Sleep’ starts like a plane with a dying engine, circling around and around, winding down the album in one final holding pattern. It’s a thoughtful end to a record that’s gripping without ever needing to explode to life, allowing itself to glide to an end.

Led by feelings and undeniably thoughtful, the use of sounds here are, if not clever, at the very least, artistically constructed. No longer giggling about fictional bodily functions, this is a band who have matured, seen a new horizon and aimed directly for it. They’re letting you experience things rather than explaining them. ‘Nothing Clever, Just Feelings’ is the CLT DRP record you need to listen to. It’s an atmospheric, inventive and frequently inspired gem.

IAN KENWORTHY

Three more album reviews for you

Graphic Nature - ‘Who Are You When No One Is Watching?’

Northbound - 'Juniper'

LIVE: Download Festival 2024 - Sunday