I Am Kloot

The Zodiac, Oxford
16th April 2005

I don’t have high expectations of I Am Kloot; the Manchester trio have been around for 6 years and 3 albums, but haven’t significantly impinged on my, or the record-buying public’s, consciousness. They seem to be one of those bands who build up a loyal fanbase but never get big.

Suitably for a band who arrive on stage to a classical fanfare, their sound is larger than the sum of their parts (guitar/vocals, bass and drums, with occasional keyboards by the bassist), even on the more acoustic numbers. They are very much tune- and voice-led; the instruments follow and complement the vocals, rather than try to equal it or compete. Their songs are complex, melancholy stories of relationships and situations – sometimes kitchen-sink, sometimes more opaque, like the slow and sleazy, wry and acerbic Twist, a song, according to singer/guitarist Johnny Bramwell, about “fucking and disaster”. The boozy and bluesy The Stars Look Familiar and Storm Warning could be crooned by disillusioned bar philosophers at closing time.

Their twisted tales stick in the mind; each track never outstays its welcome – the melodies are never overdeveloped or flogged, and the lyrics are succinct and mysterious. Their set is a brisk 23 tracks long, drawing mostly from the current album Gods and Monsters and their first, Natural History.

Most memorable tracks seem to be the ones where something different happens – like cymbal-heavy jazzy drumming (Strange Without You), prominent falsetto (debut single To You) or a prominent keyboard riff (Gods and Monsters).

I Am Kloot’s strength is the fact that they are based around Bramwell, who is also the songwriter; in fact, they come across more like a solo act with a backing band at times. Despite never being upbeat, they’re endearing for their honesty and brevity; but those things may just be what prevents them from becoming big.


From Nightshift, May 2005