Release Date: Jul 10, 2012
Record label: Frog Stand Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Chamber Pop
In case you're wondering, a KR-51 is a vintage German motor scooter, sort of a Teutonic version of a Vespa, and Clare Manchon, Olivier Manchon, and Bob Hart spent some time exploring Berlin on their bikes during the eight months they spent in Germany writing and recording the third Clare & the Reasons album. While Clare and her bandmates have always approached their pop music with an artful and baroque perspective, KR-51 feels more European in its lush orchestrations and moody melodic structures, and Clare's vocals are at once more melodramatic and better controlled than on her previous recordings, as if Kate Bush gave up on English mysticism and discovered Europop with no loss in her emotional force. The trio is joined by a 23-piece orchestra and drummer James McAlister for these sessions, and KR-51 was conceived and executed on a grand scale; the songs are rooted in pop and the more playful byways of art rock, but the instrumental backdrops sound nearly operatic, or like the soundtrack to some grand but deeply personal cinematic epic about innocents adrift in Germany.
You don’t need to know that the Brooklyn based Clare and the Reasons moved to Berlin and drove around that city on the titular model moped while recording their third album. But it helps provide some pertinent back story to music that can be as dark, imposing and complex as the city and a demanding listen. Those entranced by the avant chamber-pop classical stylings of Joanna Newsom will find this a similarly rewarding ride as Clare Muldaur Manchon’s trembling, fairy-ish voice glides over these dreamscapes that seem like soundtracks to some as yet unfilmed David Lynch movie.
Clare and the Reasons’ new LP, KR-51 , is proof that beautiful music, accompanied by stunning vocals and first-rate musicianship, can still be very dull. In what appears to be a forced attempt to evolve beyond Francophile charm pop, Clare and the Reasons got experimental, dissonant, bare, and ultimately uninteresting. The Brooklyn foursome’s previous LP, Arrow, a sugary baroque pop gem with hints of experimentalism and jazz (combined with the contemporary critical success of more brooding, ornate pop music) may have compelled the band to reach to more sophisticated heights.
CLARE AND THE REASONS “KR-51” (Frog Stand). A lone banjo plinks as Clare Manchon sings “Empty, empty,” in “This Too Shall Pass” on “KR-51,” the third album by Clare and the Reasons. But she’s not isolated for long. By the end of the song, her voice has multiplied into a choir, and ….