woensdag 17 mei 2017

Lens. Close Talker

In my iTunes directory the position of Close Talker is very befitting: two up from Cold War Kids. (With a band called Codeine in between.) Why? This is a band I'm reminded of a few times while listening to Lens. That is one way of starting this review. The other is that I at first had mistaken the album name for the band name. So naming an album after one of the wingers of the NL football team is special for a band from Canada. Saskatoon somewhere on the vast prairies. Alas, that turned out to be my mistake.

Lens is a solemn album. Close Talker not only takes its music seriously. It plays serious music. Right from the start the trio draws its listeners into its own world. Those inclined to listen to music that is like a carpet of sound should feel right at home. I'm thinking of that hitsingle called 'Diamonds' of The Boxer Rebellion, to set the mood here.

Lens starts hesitantly. Sparse keyboard sounds and a soft voice. When the drums, smooth bass and spacious guitar join the sound is expanded. The album really gets under way when the sound is more electrified by the guitar. 'All Of Us' is not so representative of what follows. The song is more to the point, in a very indirect, humble way.

The true sound of Close Talker comes to the fore in the second song. 'Reptiles'. Spacious keyboards with the other instruments keeping close together. A rather suave, vast sound that in most songs is built up in the right ways, by using dynamics and changes of a lead instrument or sound. One of my favourite songs on the album is 'Okay Hollywood' where the band does several of these tricks in one song. The staccato verses and the wider choruses show a keen ear for detail.

Close Talker released its first album in 2013 called 'Timbers', a year after starting the band. Will Guiring, vocals/guitar, Mathew Kopperud, guitar/vocals, Chris Morien, drums/vocals and Jerms Olsen, bass/vocals started the band. Since 2105, after Olsen left the band, Close Talker is a trio. According to the bio "honing their skills, creating a more vast and iconic sound". The leaving of Olsen may explain why I have the impression to be listening to a digital bass on Lens.

It took me a while to warm to Lens. It has happened after a few more serious sessions with the album. In these moments I noticed the details that were delivered with the whole. The subtle differences Close Talker allows into its sound. Once I had come to this point it wasn't difficult to share my thoughts with you, where before it was.

Take 'Afterthought'. A song that did not draw me to it, nor distinguish itself in any way to me. In fact I thought it fairly boring and that for a song that was widely acclaimed and "is as intimate as it is earnest". I did not hear it. Until I noticed, once again on Lens, how this song is slowly flashed out into a something else, something good, full of atmospheric sounds and additions to what it started out with. This sums up Close Talker more for me than the Cold War Kids outing 'Waking Up' that follows 'Afterthought'. The more prominent drums, guitars and rhythms do one thing for Lens though: create variation and they take the solemn top of things.

From what I understand Close Talker have set a huge steps in its development. It will be interesting to find out to see if the band is able to set another step in the near future that will get them in the league where many other bands have already arrived in. For now Close Talker is certainly a band to watch with this fine sophomore album under its belt.


You can listen to and buy Lens here:


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