The Cooper Temple Clause – Kick Up The Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose – Review

The Cooper Temple Clause

Kick Up The Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose (RCA)
By Scott Deckman

The Cooper Temple Clause are an odd Brit band in a few ways: A hybrid of Britpop, industrial noise, dance beats, and surprisingly loud, cacophonous choruses, the band can’t seem to figure out what it does best. On Kick Up the Fire, and Let the Flames Break Loose, the group that’s huge in England have a lot of good ideas that aren’t fully fleshed out, and may just suffer the too-British moniker to ever make it Stateside.

Opener “The Same Mistakes” seems lifted from Coldplay, with airy, dreamy atmospherics and a snarelike drum – and like most of their cuts, plenty of synthetics and oddly-placed layered guitars. Slowly building to a climax, the soaring chorus grabs you, or will grab your girlfriend, either/or.

“Promises, Promises” is part industrial freakout, part proper Brit chorus and melody; “New Toys” mixes Morrissey boo-hoo with Depeche Mode synth pop, then bad Beck video game experiment. The Cooper Temple Clause may indeed make some interesting music, but they also have a bad habit of letting the synthetic get in the way of the linear. Oh yeah, did I mention the band is British? Vocalist Ben Gautrey conjures up everyone from Liam Gallagher and George Harrison to Chris Martin and Damon Albarn. Maybe this Yankee’s a bit biased, but count on your hand the number of British bands (post-first wave) that can pull off bad and ballsy and still sound British… Motörhead doesn’t sound too British, and The Jesus and Mary Chain are Scottish, so they don’t count. Johnny Lydon had a certain buffoonish quality and… you get the drift.

While spinning a pastiche of pop and annoying noise, the band does play it straight now and then. Take “Into My Arms,” another girlfriend song that’s pretty, slow, and hypnotic, before the knob-twisters have their way and industrial garbage ruins it. You start to wonder what they’d sound like if they stopped trying so fucking hard. You don’t have to wait long, as the band’s centerpiece, the pretty-and-loud “Blind Pilots” is up next, sporting a menacing guitar over sing-speak that builds to a thundering crescendo as Gautrey wails: “You came along to raise the stakes/to tend to me and my mistakes/I can’t pretend that I could be/the man you said you saw in me/but hang around and I’ll try and land this thing,” replete with angelic coda.

Could The Cooper Temple Clause be finding God?