This is a review of "The Process" recorded by Club Smith. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2010.
Following up on their debut EP, 'The Loss,' Leeds' Club Smith release their new, four track EP 'The Process.'
EP-opener 'The Green Room' proves that a good drumbeat can take you a long way. By the time the first cycle of stompy drums and sudden, military-tinged drum-rattles is over, you'll be completely hooked. On the negative, the lurch between the drum-driven verses and the molten, alt-pop headiness of the chorus, is a little jarring. This transition could have been better executed, making the song a coherent whole, rather than a great chorus and a great verse, which seem to have wound up next to one another.
Another strong factor in 'The Green Room' - and, indeed, the rest of 'The Process's - favour, is frontman Sam, who has an instinct for timing and pitching. In 'The Green Room' he transforms every word into a wicked hook, and on 'Causing Doubt' the high notes he hits during the stripped-down, drum-led knock and rattle of the verses, jab their way into your consciousness. Impossible-to-ignore vocals. However, during the choruses Sam's voice is lost behind a stream of "ooooh-whooooo" backing vocals. Strain your ears, and you'll find he's running an anthemic, urgent vocal thread through this roar of sound, but it's too deeply sunk in the mire of backing vocals to make any real impression. A slight tweaking of the mix, and 'Causing Doubt' could have been another 'The Green Room.'
Club Smith take it to a darker place on 'Do You Despair?' and it's not a natural fit for them. In respect of the sombre mood, Sam holds his voice at the same level, and after a while it begins to feel flat and boring. And there's no spark in the lyrics either, as Sam often lapses into repeating the song's title over and over again. 'Do You Despair?' mostly putters along at the same, comfortable level, but it does rouse itself during the first half of the chorus, turning out a hollow, dispirited "oooooh-ooooooh" backing vocal, that's like an ingenious, inverted version of 'Causing Doubt.' However, it's just one great moment, lost in a song that seems content with just being 'okay.'
Club Smith get back on track with 'Young Defeatists,' which is the perfect EP-closer. After getting the listener twitching along to boatloads of jigging indie-rock rhythms, Club Smith launch into a sticky pop chorus where the guitars zoom to giddy heights. They even manage to squeeze in a dramatic finale, befitting of an EP-closer, as a hoard of murmuring voices plays us out of 'Young Defeatists' and, indeed, the EP. A perfect full-stop for 'The Process.'
Club Smith have a lot going for them. Their vocalist can turn every last word into a sharp hook, and their blend of electro, pop and indie means that 'The Process' pretty much has something for everyone. A glossy, high-octane combination of awkward indie, heady pop, and the occasional smattering of fizzy electro, all topped off with professional-sounding vocals. Frightening good, especially for a second release.