Maryland’s Clutch are back again with ‘Book Of Bad Decisions’, releasing their unmistakable brand of groove laden southern rock. Taking onboard eleven albums worth of knowledge, the band have brought some new elements to their refined sound.
The most notable change on this record has to be the streamlined approach taken to each track. This is highlighted in the likes of ‘Weird Times’, jumping through multiple motifs and rhythmic sections without creating a jarring effect.
The title-track itself allows no dead space, and instead it focuses on its three acts creating maximum effect. Not just content on letting the lyrics be the forefront of the verse, bassist Dan Maines weaves around the vocal pattern, creating nuances for us to discover.
It’s evident upon listening to the album that the fine details are what elevates it, whether it’s stuttering snare accents or the omitted chorus line at the end of ‘In Walks Barbarella’.
The lead guitar work on this album takes the approach of considering the tone of the composition. Instead of running through scales, Tim Sult builds on the narrative of tracks such as ‘Spirit Of ’76’, with the chosen notes harmonising towards a crescendo.
Lyrically, the group touches on a range of subjects, most notably as a how to prepare crab cakes, as shown on lead single ‘Hot Bottom Feeder’. But, humour aside, subjects such as the passage of time are approached as shown in ‘A Good Fire’ with lines such as “Nothing in this world can ever last.”
Single ‘How To Shake Hands’ showcases the prowess of drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, using the verse as a backbone for his intricate snare work. Throughout the album, Gaster injects flourishes of swing and jazz patterns into the band’s blues and funk inspired rock.
Other elements are introduced through the album to provide variance, such as the presence of a piano on ‘Vision Quest’ and horn sections working alongside fuzzed out guitars as lead instruments on ‘In Walks Barbarella’.
Album highlights such as ‘Emily Dickinson’ showcases vocalist Neil Fallon‘s rich baritone, allowing it to soak into the verse. His diversity is once again shown on closer ‘Lorelei’ by having his howl signal the chorus to devastating effect.
Twenty-five years in and Clutch have released an album that not only perfected their sound but has also created new avenues for them to now explore.