CLEARLAKE Lido (Dusty Company)
Clearlake, the band, the image, the music, are all born of Morrissey's seaside town, the one they forgot to bomb, wherever it may be. You can see it in the cover pictures of a deserted outdoor swimming pool, you can hear it in the music, saturated with the after-effects of a childhood in some forgotten coastal resort that's perpetually out-of-season. Which makes Clearlake an eccentric, quintessentially English band - imagine what The Smiths might have sounded like had they formed in Morecambe rather than Manchester.
The sound of the pier-end Wurlitzer is all over this album , rising up from the brief instrumental opening and swelling to a close in the dying moments of "Winterlight". In between Clearlake illuminate the darker corners of life's regimented drudgery with insight and wit. "Sunday Evening" bemoans the fact that there's nothing on TV apart from "Songs Of Praise"; "Jumble Sailing" eloquently explores car boot sale culture. Sometimes proceedings even assume a Sinatra-like grandeur, for example the hop, skip and jumping melody of "I Hang On Every Word You Say". These might be highlights but "Lido" is an album that works far better as a whole: without implying some kind of prog rock conceptual disaster area it really does manage to evoke a mood and magick up a time and place that will be familiar to anybody with memories of half-term holidays at the seaside.