We dare you to mean a single word you say

I feel like The Cooper Temple Clause are one of my pet bands. Not that I keep them in a hutch and take them for walks and feed them weird stuff, but in the sense that I've been with them since day one. I still have their debut release 'Hardware EP' somewhere, and in the period leading up to their debut album (say, late 2001 to early 2002) I got to see them live about eight times in various small venues, like the Garage, the Scala, Camden Palace and one of the smaller stages at Reading. At the time, I was most proud of how I wrote about their song 'The Devil Walks in the Sand', saying it began with "Zepellin-aping enormochords".

Their two albums are really fantastic, and I'm quietly happy that they haven't reached the popularity heights of the pretty reprehensible Kasabian, who tread on similar ground. TCTC have always had two kinds of songs, the short, sharp, punch you in the gut songs (Been Training Dogs, Panzer Attack, Promises Promises), and the more spread out mini-epics ('The Lake', 'Talking to a Brick Wall') and on their best songs, they somehow combine the two. Check out 'The Same Mistakes', their finest achievement yet.

In the several years since that last record, they've lost a bassist to Carl Barat. The new record Make This Your Own is out in January, and I'm a little (just a little) disappointed on the first listen. It's a lot more to the point, with less of the second category of song. They switch around lead vocal duties quite a bit, which can get a little disorienting, but there's plenty to enjoy, like the punch-you-in-the-gut single 'Homo Sapiens' and the misleadingly named 'Take Comfort'. The band play up their electronic influences, and some songs are particular danceable, like 'Connect'.

I guess my main gripe is that for the first time, on this album TCTC don't sound like they're playing for their lives, throwing a million things at a wall and seeing what sticks, going all out. Having seen their incredible blood-sweat-n-tears live show so many times, I know that they can be as intense as aw'hell, but that fire didn't really come across, at least on first listen. 'Head' really bugs me. 'Once More With Feeling' begins really slowly, but then comes and goes in a flash, where they previously would've given it more space to shine.

The second half of the album picks it up a little. I'm sure it'll grow on me like a fresh new perm.

[download The Cooper Temple Clause - The Same Mistakes]
[download The Cooper Temple Clause - What Have You Gone and Done?]


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