Where has Clare Quilty been? Dancing between moody atmospherics and crunching guitars, this band should’ve been college rock favorites years ago. Of course, there’s nothing stopping them from doing so now. With their appropriately titled second CD, Strong, Clare Quilty is set to take on the world.
Recalling the days when alternative was fearlessly played on mainstream radio, Clare Quilty creates taut songs layered with noise and angelically bold female vocals. Lead by singer Jenn Rhubright, Strong crosses pain and fear with a delightful self-awareness. The combination creates an introspective ambience to their music, providing the perfect soundtrack to ponder life and all of its accompanying emotions by. While their sound is somewhat a throwback to the early ‘90s, Clare Quilty still manages to sound exciting in an age of over-processed pop.
From the joyfully noisy “Angel of the Odd” to the spooky “Anger Is Beautiful,” Clare Quilty is capable of both humor and melancholy while acknowledging the dichotomy. On “Secret Sharer,” they playfully proclaim “If it burns like fire, then it must be art, but if it’s under fire, then it’s under me.” The song is fully of such non-sequiturs, but it works in forming a mischievous effect. A few songs later, however, the meaning is clear on “Sleep with You.” “I don’t think that I could be faithful or true,” Rhubright sings, then adds, “I want to sleep with you.”
While the sonic effects and unusual instruments work to compliment songs like the dark “Comfort Me,” they for the most part detract from the strength of this band, like the over-produced “Dylarama.” Relying too much on feedback and vocal effects, Clare Quilty abandons their true abilities in favor of annoying rock standards. Still, Clare Quilty missteps rarely, even the songs that aren’t up to the caliber of the rest of Strong can’t be considered terrible.
Clare Quilty’s talent carries Strong. Bold and fun, this set of songs is telling of a band that is obviously up-and-coming. Clare Quilty will undoubtedly find more success with this album that definitely lives up to its name.