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Alex Clare – The Lateness of The Hour

Alex Clare, The Lateness of the Hour

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE debut album from Golders Green native Alex Clare arrives with some very interesting credentials that undoubtedly help to establish a very unique sound.

Produced in the main by Diplo and Switch (the latter of whom was an integral part of Beyonce’s 4), The Lateness of The Hour fuses soul and jazz, funk and jungle, punk rock and dub-step to create a truly diverse, yet mainstream savvy experience.

Underpinning everything, meanwhile, are Clare’s deeply soulful vocals, which contain a tremendous depth of emotion.

The ensuing collection of songs deliberately refuses to conform to traditional singer-songwriter techniques and is designed to make you take notice given the fusion of styles.

Explains Clare of the collaboration with Diplo and Switch: “They understand what I want from the arrangements. I love those heavy, sine-wave bass lines and they knew how to push them way beyond even my expectations.”

He also credits them with bringing in poly-rhythms and synth sounds that just wouldn’t have happened otherwise, given his more reserved approach.

Hence, on a heart-on-sleeve moment such as Too Close (“and it feels like I’m just too close to love you”), in which Clare’s vocals are stretched to the max, warped synths and brooding beats combine to create a heady background sound that really does grab your attention.

Hummingbird, similarly, finds Clare in more relaxed and playful vocal form, backed up by some subtle piano arrangements, a foot-tapping beat and some flute-like elements over the chorus. It’s disarmingly effective.

Treading Water, meanwhile, finds another soulful vocal lamenting that “I’m sure I’ll f**k things up the same way” over drum ‘n’ bass influenced beats and synths. Again, it’s a strange mix upon first listen, but it grows on you massively.

The eclecticism of the album is underlined a few songs later with the party anthem Hands Are Clever, a smart fusion of funk and soul that almost finds Clare adopting a falsetto approach. It’s both retro and contemporary and should effortlessly have people up on the dance-floor.

Clare’s brilliance and individualism, however, lies in his ability to mix these styles into a coherent, satisfying whole. For while there are undoubtedly tracks that boast big production values and a party vibe, there’s equally moments of tenderness and raw passion that work just as well: the affecting Love You and the strings and dub-step mix of Relax My Beloved being two such examples.

The result is an album that continually surprises and nearly always impresses.

Download picks: Too Close Hummingbird, Hands Are Clever, Treading Water, Love You, Relax My Beloved

Track listing:

  1. Up All Night
  2. Treading Water
  3. Relax My Beloved
  4. Too Close
  5. Hummingbird
  6. Hands Are Clever
  7. Tightrope
  8. Whispering
  9. Love You
  10. Sanctuary
  11. I Won’t Let You Down