By Kenny McMurtrie
Not that I’ve made a great effort to hear new works in the year so far (mostly I’ve been playing stuff from last year or earlier that I’d not properly got to grips with) but it occurred to me that by the end of February 2011 I’d already scribbled down five or so titles that constituted the beginning of my personal top twenty releases of that year whereas in 2012 I’ve so far got no candidates for the list. Phenomenal Handclap Band‘s Form And Control could therefore realistically find me still giving it the thumbs up in ten months time.
For one thing it’s an entire party soundtrack in itself – danceable, chantable and bounceable. No signs of “difficult second album syndrome” here. Pulling in a myriad new influences to the band’s already bulging sack of options you can add echoes of the likes of The Human League, MGMT, Fleetwood Mac, Justice, Blondie and even The Steve Miller Band to the Afro-beat, Nu Yorican soul, disco and psych that coloured their self-titled debut album of a couple of years ago.
‘Give’ is the tune that has consistently caught my ear when my attention has been distracted by doing other stuff with the album on in the background over the last ten days or so. A good hook, breathy vocals and progressive beats that have you dropping what you’re doing and doing a little shuffle round the floor or a wee writhe in your seat. I would though be very hard pressed to single out any song of the eleven for even minor negative criticism as each really adds up to the sum total of the outfit’s sound (unlike say The Go Team’s work – occupying similar territory but generally having an overarching sound that can become wearing).
Currently then this is as far as I’m concerned one of the best album releases of the year so far (either way February’s too early to proclaim anything the album, car, film or toilet brush of the year – take note advertising lizards, that’s free advice) and I’ll have it on the player for a while yet and definitely again around November to see if it’s stood the test in the intervening months (with the dark nights then this Summer-tinged offering may even sound better than just now).