Clever Square used to be a band. Before their break-up in 2015 the Italian group released two albums and six EP’s and ruled the roost as far as Italian bands playing a mix of American and Indie music. But post-2015 Clever Square is singer and guitarist Giacomo D’Attorre and a trio of new recruits. It’s a daunting task being armed with a full notebook of songs but surrounded by empty chairs in the studio but one that can come with a sense of freedom. New musicians bring new influences, new drive, a re-energised momentum and the chance to play, unbiased by earlier offerings.
So we find ourselves with new album, the self-titled Clever Square, and it’s a mix of indie, grunge, folk and heavily influenced by American slacker/garage rock of the mid 90’s and, say it quietly, it’s a bit of a triumph.
Using the electronic static/fuzz/distortion that Radiohead used so well on The Bends and OK Computer, it also borrows from the college frat boy music of Weezer. Treble-heavy guitar and a varying (but tight) rhythm section allow D’Attorre’s voice to play out nicely, taking a sideways look at the world, walking a tightrope between this world and an imaginary world with titles such as ‘Are Glasses And Contacts Ruining Your Vision?’ and ‘Denial And The Wizards’, it’s far from catchy pop but it still manages to stay grounded and accessible.
‘Cringe’ has late night radio play written all over it with it’s clever melody straight from the pages of college rock – no surprise that it’s the first single from the album – and there is enough variation in the music to keep even the most ardent of indie fans happy.
Obviously the idea of an Italian band playing American indie rock won’t be to everyone’s taste, but it’s well made, well played and well worth your time, especially if you fancy a little escapism from today’s over-produced offerings.