The Real Tuesday Weld The Return of the Clerkenwell Kid

[Six Degrees; 2005]

Styles: indie pop
Others: Field Mice, Magnetic Fields, Stereolab, and other bands they inspired

Flipping on the new record by The Real Tuesday Weld (aka Englishman Stephen Coates), I couldn't help but settle in. As a devoted indie-pop fanatic, it was evident that all the right elements were in place for a listen that would at least satisfy my craving for the genre. Coates' subdued voice gave way to gentle, yet lavish instrumentation constructed around relatively simple-structured pop songs with questionable-to-dumb lyrics; and there were even subtle hints at jazz, something that most indie-pop acts miss when taking cues from '60s singers.

By the end of the shuffling instrumental "At the House of the Clerkenwell Kid," I was whisked off to a floating cloud, unable to think about anything other than the pleasing melody. Coates seemed to be getting at a sound a little more involved than the traditional tweesters. When the fifth track, "L'amour et la Morte" kicked in, I was thrown for a complete loop. Suddenly, this album which had been offering subtle, whispering music with grainy, acoustic instrumentation sprang to life on the back of a kicking electronic beat and catchy synth melodies. Like the rest of the album, the lyrics leave something desired with the repetitive "Well I don't believe in love/ until I'm in love/ and I don't know if it's a miracle/ or just chemicals in us."

The change in mood that turns on the fifth track, as it turns out, completely opens up the album to go anywhere it wants, from the lounge-tinged "The Birds and the Bees" to the sing-speak Belle and Sebastian ode "Asteroids." The album even returns to its original rootsy sound on the penultimate "Am I in Love?" Coates oozes sentimentality with the familiar influences throughout. But he has a knack for knowing what to leave out, making this album a viable contribution to the recently depleting indie-pop canon. At 17 tracks, however, the same musical techniques  (saxophone/muted trumpet sounds, whispered tinge that sounds like it's about to fall asleep) get old at times. Mostly this is an easy collection of pop songs to cuddle up with on a rather breezy evening, if you're into that whole "wuss" thing that seems to be going around these days.

1. Waking Up (Intro)
2. Anything But Love
3. On Lavender Hill
4. At The House Of The Clerkenwell Kid
5. L'amour Et La Morte
6. Bruises
7. Turn On The Sun Again
8. Close Your Eyes When You Read This
9. Daisies
10. Somethign Beautiful
11. Deja Vu
12. Birds And The Bees, The
13. Little White Birds
14. I Love The Rain
15. Asteroids
16. Am I In Love
17. Goodbye Stephen