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Based on the glowing review of a certain site, I figured that Clearlake was pretty much the second coming of British rock. After hearing takes from a couple friends that said the release wasn't all it was cracked up to be, I was still tempted enough to plunk down some cash for Cedars anyway. On the first (and even second) listens, I have to admit that I wasn't very impressed. As soon as the disc stopped spinning, I couldn't remember a single thing from it, and it went right back into my stack of current rotations.

A funny thing happened on the third or fourth listen, though. At some point, one song crawled into my brain, and then another, and then another. Before I knew it, I was listening to the disc almost once a day and wondering what happened. Truth be told, the actual greatness of the disc most likely lands somewhere between both of those reactions, but it's still one of the better British rock discs that I've heard in awhile. It takes a little bit of the Smiths, a little bit of the orchestal swooping excess, and some great lyrical turns and melds it into 12 tracks and just about 45 minutes of enjoyable music that I've found myself going back to.

The disc opens with the propulsive "Almost The Same," and while it's catchy enough, it's not nearly as good as many of the other tracks on the disc. It's on songs like "The Mind Is Evil" where the group really shines. With swells of strings, some rambling piano and organ stabs, and soaring vocals by Jason Pegg, it alternates between odd waltz and soaring ballad. The same goes with "I'd Like To Hurt You," a track that cracks back and forth between shimmering ambience and lumbering piano-laced confessions.

For good measure, there are a couple of full-on rockers (like the aforementioned opening track and "Can't Feel A Thing"), but the group is at their best when being devlishly playful. One great example is following up the somewhat sarcastic "Keep Smiling" with "It's All Too Much," a track in which every single word is stretched out for maximum effect over a bed of building guitar noise before the whole thing bursts into a finale that rocks more than anything else on the entire release. As I mentioned above, it wasn't a release that hit me immediately, but it grew on me and is now a current favorite. If this group keeps going and getting better, they should find themselves at the top of the UK heap at some point.

Rating: 7.75