Fame, the hard way
Maddy Costa Saturday May 13, 2000
I am Kloot Monarch, London **** (Recommended)
By the blissful closing notes of I am Kloot's last song, To You, you start wondering if this was how enraptured Alan McGee felt on that legendary night when he saw Oasis in Glasgow's King Tuts.
Fantasies fill your mind of tiny frontman Johnny Bramwell, five feet of attitude with piercing eyes, accusing a packed crowd at Wembley Arena of being too polite, instructing them to "go crazy, you goopy little chimpanzees", and offering to sell them 99p worth of coloured plastic clothes pegs for the bargain price of 37p. Perhaps by then his banter will be less odd.
It's hard to tell if Bramwell wants to be famous; if he does, he's going the hard way about it with admirable vigour. His band's name is ridiculous, his voice rarely strays from that blunt yowl so distinctive of Mancunian singers, and he's incapable of writing a pretty, breezy pop song without at least trying to give it a black eye.
He might look - and sometimes, on the gentle, restrained singles, sound - like a fey, folky singer-songwriter, but he catapults into much darker territory when he plays live.
Unsettling lyrics ricochet around the room: Titanic, their debut single, starts with the line "Murderers come dressed as suicides"; "You're living your life in flashback," he observes in To You. Even the words "I love you" sound sinister, attached in the edgy chorus of Twist to the phrase "There's blood on your legs".
Weaving Peter Jobson's drawling basslines, Andy Hargreaves's louche drums and Bramwell's angular, lurching melodies, the music is immensely vibrant: Storm Warning and Stop especially sound like film noir vignettes stripped of their glamour.
The Oasis comparison keeps cropping up: for all the air of strangeness, Bramwell essentially writes proper pop songs with memorable melodies and choruses you can sing along to, the kind of tunes you can easily imagine topping the charts.
They're still only on their second single; there could be a Wonderwall
in Bramwell yet. But better and weirder, of course.
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