Clever Square “Clever Square” (Bronson Recordings, 2019)

Described as the Italian golden boys of American indie rock by their totally unbiased record label, Clever Square main man Giacomo D’Attore has pulled together a new band following the original version’s split in 2015. D’Attore is unambiguous in citing US indie rock as his inspiration and this eponymously titled new album certainly does take a nod in that direction. And all without a hint of an Italian accent.

The album peaks early with tracks 2 through 4 hinting at a quality that can’t quite be matched by what follows. However, those three songs are growers, getting better and more memorable with each listen.

It comes as no surprise to know that the first of these three standouts, ‘Cringe’, is also the first single released from the album. By far the most commercial and radio-friendly sounding track on the album it has a hint of The Wynntown Marshals or Great Lake Swimmers both in the sound of D’Attore’s vocals and in the way the track bounces along with jangly guitars and a memorable hook.

That earworm guitar hook trick is re-employed to great effect on the subsequent track ‘Avocado Phishing’. It is a song given a twist with the additional vocals of Adele Nigro but it is that repeated guitar rift that lifts the song to its lofty status as one of the album’s peaks.

The final act in this trilogy belongs to ‘Busted Religions’ and, while it meanders along at a slower pace to its predecessors, it too stands out for some quietly arresting guitar work for its brief 2:46 duration.

Strangely enough, the rest of the album is probably closer to that indie sound to which D’Attore aspires than these three highlights. Reviewing music is a subjective business and, for others looking for this edgier sound, there are other tracks here that may better hit the spot. But with three of the remaining seven songs coming in at under three minutes they just fail to stand out in the same way.

All of the songs are lyrically ambiguous. Whether that is by design or due to subtleties of language being lost in translation is hard to say but this album is all about its sound. The appeal of that sound will probably split opinion which is, inevitably, the way music is and should be.

Italian nod towards the US Indie market hits occasional highs
6/10

Author: Peter Churchill

Lover of intelligent singer-songwriters; a little bit country; a little bit folk; a little bit Americana. Perfect Day - early morning round of golf, afternoon at Dean Court watching AFC Bournemouth, evening gig at a cosy smallish venue with a pint and a packet of scratchings.

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