Lens by Close Talker – Album Review
by Matt Callard
Good to know you can still tell the quality of an album by the quality of the sleeve art. Canada’s Close Talker go for a dark, messy snapshot of amps, foliage, candles and projections for this second album. It’s indistinct and frustrating, the message unclear, the layout unappealing. The tracklisting font is virtually illegible. Oh – and it’s brown, mostly. Brown.
The opener kind of drifts in and out of your sub-conscious, totally unmemorable, save for a funky bass attempt that’s about as loose-limbed as rigamortis. The tempo lifts for best track ‘Reptiles’ as a neat Gary Numan synth riff ebbs and flows around a chameleonic rock song. It changes gears in the right places and at least demonstrates some understanding of dynamics.
‘Brothers’ starts off sweet and jangling and carries the album’s best melody lines, but the stab at stadium rock in ‘Okay Hollywood’ is a folly, its avalanche of noise burying the song, instead of lifting it to a new level. Why? Because the song isn’t strong enough to bear the weight in the first place.
“Hardly a genre goes untampered”
‘Waking Up’ carries an incongruous and anachronistic Madchester beat behind flailing powerchords that’s as horrible as it sounds. ‘Figure Eights’ is lounge rock for teetotallers, all air and sugar, without body and soul. Closer ‘Seasonal Friends’ starts off dreamy and affecting, but overstays its welcome, searching for a new idea that never comes.
God, it tries, though, this album. There’s hardly a genre that goes untampered. At times Close Talker sound like the devastatingly bad, constipated chart rock of Orson, at others like they’re running some junior post-rock gauntlet, all jagged ambience and disembodied vocals – like if Slint were forced under pain of death to cover Arcade Fire on X-Factor for eternity.
Lens wants to be expansive. It wants to be all-things. But, like the album sleeve, its lack of focus is, ultimately, its downfall.
They’ll be huge in 18-months.