This EP is brilliant - simply brilliant. Historically, Clearlake has been pigeonholed under the glass ceiling effect of Brit-pop’s melodic rock scene, ignored in haste because of the power of the big guns like Coldplay and Embrace. The London-based quartet has surpassed their competition on this seven track, twenty-minute demo, crafting a collection of tender tunes would make Chris Martin blush. Bringing forth introverted, relationship-fuelled lyrics with simple, tastefully endearing guitar rock and virtuosic production techniques, Wonder if the Snow will Settle is everything Brit-style melodic rock should be: emotional, heartfelt, tight, and charming.

The EP, consisting of three remix tracks and a fairly standard take on Neil Young’s classic “Cinnamon Girl” (quite possibly the only smudge on the record), is dominated with themes of growth, love, and loss that drips like candle wax from the forlorn. Each track paints a bleak view of all the atypical emotions that create cloudy rifts in relationships. Constructing a seven-step break-up plan in song, Clearlake begins with suffrage in the nearly perfect “Wonder if the Snow Will Settle.” Working through hurt, realization, and finally acceptance, the EP grows from the gorgeous “I Want to Live in a Dream” to the introspective “Daybreak,” finally ending with “I Want to Walk” - an assuage to the broken heart that dimly foreshadows better days ahead, despite all the hurt garnered from writing the previous six tracks (minus “Cinnamon Girl,” of course).

Lyrics like “I never thought you and I could be friends / It only goes to show you cannot tell how it ends” are as austere as they are uplifting, showcasing Clearlake’s way with words. In addition, an elegant mix of quiescent rock, melodic folk, Americana, guitar-pop, and Sigur-Ros-style ambience accent the vocals perfectly, exhibiting a band that has grown wise beyond their years, definitely in queue for a wealth of deserved acclaim. In addition, bottom-heavy drums, distorted guitars, and reverb-twanged vocals add more sugary icing on the layered cake, perfecting a style with which they are not yet commonly associated. Athlete’s quirky pop, Coldplay’s emotive rock, and Embrace’s vocal maturity are all present in Clearlake, creating a ménage-a-trios that satisfies all angles of the style while exploring new realms in which the aforementioned fail to dabble. As verbalized in the title track, the collective acknowledges their obscurity within the scene and responds with, “What is the point of worrying how will things turn out / Why spoil the surprise?” While it is no longer a surprise to me, I agree wholeheartedly. Once again, simply brilliant.

Shain Shapiro
JamBase | Canada
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[Published on: 7/3/05]

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