Clock Opera popped onto my radar at the end of last year with an great synth rock single and with the release of their second album Venn a couple of weeks ago, they have cemented themselves as a firm favourite new discovery in 2017.
Their brand of rock has equal parts synth and electronica nods and some really interesting indie pop tweaks to it. “In Memory” is sung almost entirely in falsetto and like a fractured opera piece. Whilst the voice vibrates thinly and meek, the actual music itself spreads a wide mix of synths, melodies and tones as it slowly builds itself into the indie pop anthem of “Changeling”. Here vocalist Guy’s voice begins to stretch itself around the industrial percussive rings of metallic noises and huge drums that give the track a dancing urgency. There’s some clever production throughout the album and on this track and “Closer” that follows, it’s all about the weird samples that cause alarm and immediately drop out of the mix. It manages to make each track feel really alive and have an audio form instead of being a wall of noise.
Clock Opera’s sound is completely personified with the track “Whippoorwill” which I’d describe as a melancholic anthem. The actual melody itself is quite sad and Guy’s distinctive voice has a quiet power to it, but the production and instruments used give everything a bright and dancey feel to things. Initially on the first listen, it may feel slightly at odds but its this very at odds nature that makes each song and the band itself stand out. At times there’s a dark back to the darker days of Depeche Mode with more chilled guitar synth tracks like “Hear My Prayer” but the album itself feels very 2017.
Being synth heavy, Clock Opera are able to transform relatively simple melodies into something more experimental and abstract. “Ready Or Not” on the surface is quite experimental and reminds me of Marc Almond’s darker days but actually the tune is simple. The comparison to Marc Almond and Soft Cell continues more acutely into “Dervish” which is an assault on the senses as hyperactive samples fling themselves at your ears and the whole dynamic of the band switches into a pulsating machine of energy.
Much of that energy continues through the excellent lyrics throughout the album and the remaining trio of tracks “Cats Eye”, the rocking “Tooth and Claw” (which has an amazing chorus) and the rolling ball of music that closes the album “When We Disappear” all showcase this clever use of energy in very different song structures. “Tooth and Claw” in particular stands out as a smash hit in waiting.
Clock Opera could easily be my favourite discovery of 2017. Venn is a storming album of emotion, technique and technology combined. You’ll have this on repeat – mark my words.
Recommended Track : Tooth and Claw