Lazarus Clamp - Against Entitlement

Chris Tapley 22/11/2009

Rating: 4/5

Against Entitlement is Lazarus Clamp's fifth studio album and it's really about time they get the level of recognition that they've earned. They've been consistently churning out delightfully off-kilter pop since the beginning of the decade, so why is nobody listening? Well I can't really answer that because they've come up trumps here yet again with another collection of great tunes which if they had come from a Pitchfork approved band would probably be rightly lauded.

There's a measured combination of spritely country tinged indie reminiscent of The Decemberists and wistful string arrangements which sound like a more subdued Arcade Fire. This often morphs in to skittering shouty punk which draws similarities to the glee of Architecture in Helsinki. There is a charming lethargy to these songs though as they just seem to meander along, unhindered by the frantic pace of modern life. And it's in the slowest moments that this album shines especially bright. The strings in particular tend to steal most of the limelight, when everything else breaks down to leave just fractured guitar lines and wandering percussion before the strings sweep in and lift everything back up into it's rightful, melodic place.

There are other moments though where the vocals command much of the attention with some neat self deprecating lyrics, particularly on Hard Work of Simple Things. In some of the lyrical content there are flashes of The Shins, as well as musically in some of the album's more pastoral moments such as the introspective Been Black Eyed.

There are points where it could be considered a bit samey and admittedly it would be nice to hear them strike out in to a new direction beyond wistful country or slightly shouty indie. And in fact the final track I am The Police embraces a more groove heavy approach which has hints of Queens of the Stone Age. Extra points must also be awarded for possibly my favourite song title of the year; The Night of the Steep Learning Curve. And indeed the track personifies what this kind of night might well be feel like, giving a sense of hopelessness shot through with optimism that it might actually be worth it in the end.

This album cements Lazarus Clamp's position as one of the UK's most criminally underrated bands, and I can only hope that this release helps to finally garner them the plaudits they've so clearly earned.