Clearance - At Your Leisure

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2018-07-27
Clearance - At Your Leisure
Clearance - At Your Leisure

Some thirty or so years on, the New Zealand/Flying Nun sound of the 80s is slowly catching up with quite a few American bands. Next in line are the Chicago quartet Clearance who with At Your Leisure, their second album, has moved away from their slacker 90s roots and done some deep research of the guitar sound exemplified not only by the better-known names like The Chills, The Bats and Clean but names known outside New Zealand like Jean-Paul Sartre Experience and Straitjacket Fits.

In a way, this is no wonder, since Mike Bellis, the band’s songwriter spent quality time in New Zealand, songs on At Your Leisure being the result of that visit. The moment “Chances Are” opens the album it is all chiming guitars (Kevin Fairbairn and Bellis) and quite tight rhythm patterns (Greg Orbis and Arthur Velez)) and Bellis’ vocals, which actually have more to do with Stephen Malkmus (“Frozen Orange/ No Wander”) than an Auckland swagger.

But then, that is one of the better elements of the sound Clearance come up with here. They are obviously better than the simple sum of the parts they throw in, that also includes the traces of the original 60s Brittish chime (“Haven’t You Got The Time”), which is also filtered through the likes of Robyn Hitchcock, and The Feelies (“Another Arrow”) for example.

What is even more important is that not only are Clearance able to skilfully juggle their influences, but that Bellis has given the band some quite substantial material to deal with musically and also come up with some solid lyrics: “If the contract’s ironclad / You’re on the doorstep” while “Gallery Glare” tackles winning over a disinterested crowd: “but don’t stare / cause you’ve gotta laugh at the tawdry details of this sordid affair” (“On The Doorstep”).

Sure, all the influences are there on their sleeves but Clearance wears them so well that it doesn’t really matter, and they do include enough elements that indicate they will be able to make them sound even better.

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