Alex Clare’s debut album ‘Lateness of the Hour’, sees producers Diplo and Switch bring their dub-step and thundering basslines together with Clare’s early affection for soul and blues to create an absolutely stunning record.
Opener ‘Up All Night’ provides the perfect introduction to what can be anticipated over the following eleven tracks, with a heavy guitar riff that swiftly leads into an entrancing bass line. Similarly, Clare’s vocals start at a steadier pace before switching with an impassioned explosion into a more furious flurry of lyrics which comes from the chorus. ‘Treading Water’ begins with deceptively silky-smooth vocals, lulling the listener into a temporarily relaxed state before jerking them awake with a pulsating, pulverizing beat so entrancing that it beckons to be remixed in a club environment. Even with the more ballad-driven ‘Relax My Beloved’, the grinding rhythms provide a sense of intense ferocity that ensures this track becomes far from sickeningly sentimental. However, although it takes until the final track before he shows it, there is an element to Clare’s sound that doesn’t rely on a heavy bassline to bring it to completion. ‘I Won’t Let You Down’, an acoustic number supported by a few simple piano keys, is a beautiful if wholly unexpected way for him to end the record, and is perhaps demonstrative of the very first foray he took into music when he taught himself to play guitar and piano. Whatever the reasoning behind its inclusion, it’s an added bonus to be able to see how Clare has developed musically and attests to the fact he is far from a one-trick pony.
If there’s one thing that is evident throughout, it is that Clare and his producers use the thumping basslines to enhance the feel and meaning of the well-thought out lyrics. The headiness of ‘Up All Night’ superbly encapsulates the sense of commotion and unpredictability often encountered on an evening out, whilst the slowly escalating beat before its ultimate rupture in ‘Too Close’ reflects the build-up prior to a confrontational storm when the lines of a relationship become blurred.
‘Lateness of the Hour’ is a supremely impressive record, and arguably even more so because it’s Clare’s debut. Many other artists would try to mix the opposing elements of soul, blues and dub-step together and fail miserably; but with the support and guidance of Diplo and Switch and his clear vision of the sounds and styles he ultimately wanted to create, Clare pulls it off with aplomb. Even though he himself has said, ‘it’s all about quality, not quantity’, both are most definitely presented here in droves.
The Microsoft IE9 commercial that kick-started Alex Clare’s US success…