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Despite a major line up change that saw founder member Didz Hammond head off to join Carl Barratt and the Dirty Pretty Things, The Cooper Temple Clause return with their 3rd album. The Reading based band return with the follow up to 2003's Kick Up The Fire And Let The Flames Break Loose and it would seem that a slight change of direction. The first two albums had been quite heavily guitar influenced and while this wasn't a bad thing it would never have got them any chart success. This new album however seems to be more of a play to the mainstream, whilst still staying true to the roots of the first 2 albums.
While a lot of people probably don't remember the Cooper Temple Clause they had started to build up quite a following back in 2003. It seems that the prolonged break may have lost them a number of fans but this album should be the catalyst to really make a name for themselves again. It seems to be a far more mature release from the Cooper's and whether that is intended to break into the main stream or it could just be by change. The fact is the Berkshire 5 piece seem to have moved on a lot and learned from the previous albums.
From my first listen of this album I felt it was an attempt to get the band a bigger fan base, but the lack or PR and radio airplay seems to have worked against them. This is a very solid album and while the more aggressive drive of the other two albums has gone, it's been replaced with a more melodic sound. From the opening chords of the first track, "Damage", there is a much easier going tempo. I actually thought that compared to the bands previous releases this album was far easier to get into, with a couple of the tracks really jumping out at me on the first listen.
The overall approach to the market may have changed but musically they are still as solid as ever. The departure of Didz seems to have diluted the guitars a touch but they still really give the tracks a sense of direction and purpose. It's the guitars that really make the Cooper's albums so good to listen to and they combine really well with the bass, which provides a decent backbone to every track on the album. As songwriters they have always impressed me and with the beat really being provided by the drums and bass combination this is once again a very solid musical effort.
One of the things that has always drawn me back to the Cooper Temple Clause has been the vocals and once again Ben Gautrey does a fantastic job on this album. His voice really suits the style of this album and even the slower tracks sound like they have been written in such a way that his vocals make them sound a little better. They have always been very capable of writing decent tracks and lyrics but this album sees a more mature approach to the lyrics as well. It's clear that the longer they are doing this the better the music and lyrics seem to be becoming.
From my first listen to this album there were a couple of tracks that I was instantly drawn to. I'd heard one of the songs on the album before but in particular "Waiting Game" and "Damage" seemed to quickly become my favourites. In "Waiting Game" they have written a very beautiful track with a slow pace and mellow feel. It's driven largely by the guitars but where the rest of the album has a very fast tempo this one seems a little slower. Ben's vocals really seem to fit the part on this track as well and make it a joy to listen to.
I would say that the albums opening track "Damage" is almost the exact opposite to "Waiting Game". From the opening seconds of the album it sets a much quicker tempo. It doesn't have the driving guitars and as many samples as the previous albums tracks but I feel it has a lot more structure. One thing that really surprised me about the album was how easily I got into all the tracks. With the previous two albums there was always one or two tracks that took a lot longer to get into. Not this time though as they all seem to be really good and easy to listen to.
Overall I would say that while the album may not be what the older fans of the band were expecting it is a very good album. For fans of the likes of Bloc Party and The View it is certainly an album I would recommend highly. It didn't get the press exposure it deserved for its release but hopefully this is the first step in The Cooper Temple Clause getting the recognition they deserve. While it isn't as fast paced as their other albums I can honestly say that I feel this is their best one yet. If you've bought any of the bands stuff in the past then go and buy this album, you should love it. If you haven't, well what better place to start.
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Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Homo Sapiens
5 Waiting Game
6 Once More With Feeling
7 What Have You Gone And Done
8 Take Comfort
9 All I See Is You
10 Isn't It Strange
11 House Of Cards