This is a review of "Coming Clean" recorded by The 39Steps. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2009.
'Coming Clean,' the lead-off single from The 39Steps' debut album, is three and a half minutes of beautifully understated atmospherics, with chiming synths and eerie sound effects looped to hypnotising effect. This song's heavy use of repetition ensures that it'll seep into your head despite all its subtlety, and three days later you'll still be able to recall every barely-there synth and delicate vocal.
The chorus takes a similar approach, consisting mainly of one lyric repeated over and over, in lullaby fashion. The choruses' sly catchiness is helped along by frontwoman Laura Fowles, who has the sort of undemandingly pleasant voice that can slip seamlessly into an ice-thin collection of synths, without disrupting the atmosphere. Her charismatic vocals, combined with the looped synths and stealthily catchy chorus, ensures that 'Coming Clean' never feels like easy listening, despite its softly-softly approach.
The 39Steps do attempt to make a stronger impact towards the end, with the introduction of some sombre keyboard effects. However, these are far too harsh and jar against the atmosphere the rest of the song has laboured so hard to create. Thankfully, this is only a minor hiccup, as 'Coming Clean' quickly sheds the keyboards for a fittingly understated, trail-off ending.
If you like your music to be undemanding, but not coma-inducing, 'Coming Clean' might just be worth a listen.