Jonathan Clancy promises to be mean on his new album, Vicious, but he still comes across as a nice guy…and possible heir to bedroom indie rock’s crown.
FatCat Records, 2013
7.3 / 10
Ariel Pink, Bradford Cox, and Jonathan Clancy — three names that should be synonymous with the experimental indie rock recorded via the bedroom. While the first two names are pretty known in the indie music community (and both being associated with oddball behavior), Jonathan Clancy isn’t as quick on the tongue. Recording under the moniker His Clancyness, his name seemingly signifies royalty (with a tongue-in-cheek intention, I’m sure), but if he’s looking to establish himself in the royal court of the two aforementioned artists, he makes a solid attempt in his latest album, Vicious. Already having earned his stripes via several hardcore / punk bands and previously leaking self-recorded material, Clancy improves upon his past work with a well-executed album blending glam rock, psychedelic lo-fi and motorik rhythms.
Considering the album was produced by Chris Koltay, who has worked with Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound project and Lotus Plaza (the project of Deerhunter’s Lockett Pundt), it’s not surprising that Vicious bears some similarities to those bands. Clancy has also admitted a love with his modern contemporaries’ music rather than just past influences like most musicians choose to admit to. Clancy’s gracious confessing of adoration for his peers should clue you in how he’s the polar opposite of vicious. He explains that the title of the album refers to overcoming distance: “You can beat loss, escape territories and find new lands in a heartbeat.” Though he claims Vicious comprises “the harshest things I’ve ever written”, the album is quite endearing, which is likely a result of Clancy’s ability of connecting with his listeners.
Clever lines sneak out several places, including the album’s opening as Clancy sings, “I’ve been searching for a gold rush”, on “Safe Around the Edges, suggesting that he’s been trying to find his place in music. Now that many listeners have embraced the multifaceted and unrefined sound of bedroom recordings, that gold rush is likely occurring now. Elsewhere, he bares his soul on the exhilarating cry-for-help “Crystal Clear”, “When I have no light/ Be my torch/ When the roads are blocked/ Be my spring”. Clancy’s voice, though covered in reverb, is easier to understand than Bradford Cox, and his songs avoid the humorous eccentricity of Ariel Pink. Although Vicious was recorded in studio and as a trio with Paul Pieretto and Jacopo Borazzo on bass and drums, the album maintains the free-roaming creativity of Clancy’s past bedroom recordings, not saying ‘no’ to his muse’s sonic wandering while dabbling in dream pop (Beach House-esque synths on “Slash The Night”), garage rock (employing a Strokes-like urgency on “Zenith Diamond”), noise rock, and krautrock. Variety is the spice of life, and Clancy’s versatility suggests plenty of avenues that he can take with future releases. Cox and Pink watch out; Jonathan Clancy is making a play for the throne.