Clone Quartet are a Northern Irish band signed to Tigertrap Records, they play a danceable version of indie rock/pop and for the most part manage to side-step some of the more cringe-worthy aspects of the genre. A limited release EP, their first UK tour in July and a few supporting spots with The Rapture are already under their belt. The band are made up of four members, (Andy Henry – vocals, guitar, sampler, Steven Henry – bass, sampler, Stuart Bell – guitar and Steven Quinn – drums), who met in Belfast.
Clone Quartet’s version of electro-infused rock makes use of the electronics in some interesting ways. On the lead-off track “Carousel” they contrast a kind of computer game soundtrack with a plaintive, conventional vocal delivery. The emotion of the vocals and the seemingly arbitrary blasts of Super Mario Brothers 2-esque samples are hard to get your head around at first, but the more you listen to the track the more it grows on you. Similar things abound in second track “Young Foals”. Staccato synthetic sounds, a sweeping M83 style synth and the bass buzzing along at a low level are once again paired with heart on sleeve vocals. These tracks are where Well-Oiled Machine works best, a decision is consciously made by these guys, they don’t choose the route that bands like Hadouken!, Klaxons or New Young Pony Club seem to, there is no smug delivery or hipster pandering, but there is a different, perhaps more traditional, but definitely more compelling, style of songwriting.
Unfortunately, not all of Well-Oiled Machine follows the path of the first two songs, there are some ill-advised elements to some. “Cold To The Core” does incorporate some cool Streets Of Rage noir electronics, but the song as a whole falls in to the smug and hipster pandering trap mentioned before. They seem to be trying to bite !!!’s style, (which is smug and somewhat hipster pandering, but manages to pull through because they are smug for a damn good reason), when Clone Quartet try it, they sound disappointing and un-original. “Twenty Five (Kane Was A Curse)” goes for the screaming and shouting you might hear Enter Shikari attempt, but it inevitably comes across as juvenile and un-compelling.
Despite those aberrations, Well-Oiled Machine manages to come up with a different and interesting take on Electro-Indie-Rock-Pop. There are a slew of decent if unspectacular tracks, (“Need Your Love”, “Hold On”, “Well-Oiled Machine”, “You Don’t Need Me (But I Need You)”), that recall Franz Ferdinand in their catchiness and rhythm section, and LCD Soundsystem in their contrast of electronics. An interesting debut that shows a band attempting something a little different in a genre that doesn’t generally appeal to me.