Clogs – The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton (album review)

buy The Creatures In The Garden at amazon.comA funny thing happened this spring between a couple album releases that inhabited somewhat similar genres. On one hand, I was very much expecting and incredibly excited about Joanna Newsom’s Have One On Me, and on the other hand nearly didn’t even give The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton by Clogs a listen. It wasn’t that I hadn’t liked work by the latter group, but for some reason I guess I hadn’t expected a great deal out of their latest release, while the follow-up from Newsom was one of my most anticipated albums of 2010, based on her previous release topping out my favorite albums of 2006 list.

This isn’t a review to diss Newsom, though, it’s a review to glow about Clogs, as this little 10 song album has been replayed so many times I feel like I know it by heart. It’s chamber pop with an operatic sensibility, and it moves away from their slightly more staid work of the past. Sure, it’s still a bit on the academic side, but it’s incredibly varied and features some great guest work from different vocalists, as well as some of the most interesting (and downright catchy) compositions from the group to date.

Considering past work from the group, the opener of “Cocodrillo” couldn’t come as more of a surprise as Clogs member Padma Newsome and My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden sing an a capella track that sounds downright renaissance, twisting in wonderful ways for almost two minutes before an end coda line absolutely sends shivers down the spine.

In other places, the group is closer to their past work as quiet, post rock-esque cuts (“I Used To Do” and “To Hugo”) weave together delicate instrumentation in delightful ways. Woodwinds, strings, glockenspiel, and even some urgent guitar (on the former track) ebb and flow.

It’s hard to pick out favorite songs from the album, but if I had to, I’d wager that both “On The Edge” and “Last Song” would arrive near the top of the list. The former again finds Worden absolutely bursting forth, this time over mandola, oboe, and vibraphone. Towards the end of the song, some warm guitar chords layer in and give the soaring piece just a bit more of a grounding, but it’s still one of the more breathtaking songs I’ve heard this year.

“On The Edge” – Clogs

On the other side of things is “Last Song,” featuring the National’s Matt Berninger on vocals. It’s much more downcast that most songs on the album, but the rich baritone vocals offset the quieter, delicate instrumentation almost perfectly.

“Last Song” – Clogs

It’s certainly not the sort of release that will appeal to everyone, as many will feel that either the instrumentation and/or vocals and lyrics are just a bit too much on the extravagant side. It’s that very reason that I have found a lot to love with the release, though. It’s passionate, sure, but certainly not cloying.

(buy The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton at amazon.com)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 at 6:23 pm and is filed under music. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Clogs – The Creatures In The Garden Of Lady Walton (album review)”

  1. Samuel Says:

    Hi Aaron,
    This sounds great – I’ll be sure to pick this up. Very curious about your reaction to the Newsom too. I haven’t heard it yet, but wondered if you could expand on what you dislike about it?
    Thanks,
    Sam

  2. Tyler Says:

    It’s amazing that Clogs were able to make both this and Stick Music and still maintain this level of quality as the style shifted. One of the year’s best so far.

  3. aaron Says:

    I probably won’t end up writing a review on the Newsom, which I guess sums up my general feelings, although I would add that I really do love certain songs on it. If it would have been in my hands come editing time, it would have been a single CD release that was probably about an hour in length.

    Just my opinion, though.