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Thursday, May 24, 2007

'Slumber', LiN Clover, JapanFiles CD

I have to admit that I had some smart put-downs lined up for this album, something along the lines of "it does exactly what it says on the tin, i.e it makes you slumber." However, it turned out to be one of those growers - another couple of listens and I was hooked. Where at first I saw LiN CLOVER in the same light as Skunk Anansie (a band I never had much time for), I've come to realise that there's much more to them than that.

Slumber is a compilation made up of tracks drawn from the band's first three releases. Opening track "Empty" sets the tone for a lot of the album - Yuri's vocals swooping over a backdrop of crashing drums and guitars that hint at Rival Schools battling it out with Siamese Dream-era Pumpkins. That's not to say LiN CLOVER are a one-trick pony. "It" starts out eerily quiet (perhaps as a nod to Stephen King's scary clown), before battering into a driving chorus that must sound outstanding live. "Misleading shore" starts in a similarly downbeat fashion but eschews the temptation of another crowd-pleasing chorus, instead staying in a lower gear and adding layers of guitar and feedback to create a slow-burning epic.

The album does hit something of a dip and tracks seven to nine seem to blend into one amorphous blob of mush (I think this is where my initial Skunk Anansie parallel came from). However, the album closer "Never" snaps you back to life. It's another one that starts slowly, with Yuri singing wordlessly over the top of some genuinely freaky efffects that could have come straight from the soundtrack of "Ring," "Juon" or some other such trouser-fillingly terrifying Japanese horror film. Even when the singing does become something recognisable as language, the backing never changes (if anything it becomes even more disconcerting) and the overall effect is a song that will do anything but make you sleep.

It's not all perfect but what smorgasbord is? Just as there's always that dubious looking dish of meat and vegetables that nobody is brave enough to try, there are a couple of songs here that aren't as appetising as the rest. However, the album works well as an introduction to the band and those who like what they hear can go on and investigate further. Finally, in what must be a concession to old gits like me, JapanFiles have released Slumber as a CD rather than their usual download format – the re-evolution starts here.

The CD is available to buy here. If you want to download it, send a whiny email to the people at JapanFiles and see what kind of response you get (mind you, if I was the recipient of that email, I'd probably tell you to fuck off and buy the CD, but I'm sure they're more polite than that).