Brighton-based feminist electro/punk trio CLT DRP follow their 2020 debut ‘Without The Eyes’ by taking a huge leap forwards with second album ‘Nothing Clever, Just Feelings’. The band signed to punk rock powerhouse Venn Records (Bob Vylan, Witch Fever, Meryl Streek) this year and incredibly the album was recorded at Shaken Oak Studios in Oxford over the course of just one week in March 2022, produced by Alex Gordon (The Cure, Tigercub, Sea Power, Blood Red Shoes).
The album opens with current single ‘New Boy’, a pulsating song which is not afraid to shift gear midtrack into something completely different, slowing the pace right down. Indeed there is a confidence in CLT DRP providing instrumentation surprises throughout the album. Similarly on title track ‘Nothing Clever, Just Feelings’. The bobbing synths and dancing beats begin conventionally enough albeit with sounds that are hard to recognise, part of CLT DRP’s experimentation. But as the track progresses these beats weave in pace and at times head off kilter.
CLT DRP deal with a number of issues on this album, including body image on ‘I See My Body Through You’. It’s a haunting atmospheric track, perhaps reflecting the negative impact of the theme. And yet this is immediately followed by ‘Desire / 1 on 1’, a dose of techno-infused euphoric joy. Bursting forth it rattles along at pace until a completely wild abrupt finish. ‘M.U.T.M.’ is instantly danceable, the vocal delivery is gentler, and there is almost a disco vibe here. The lyrics, meanwhile, tackle the taboo subject of masturbation from a space of vulnerability: “It’s the only thing I’m good at / Cos I don’t need anybody else.”
‘Cake 4 The Women’ takes us back to a slightly manic energy, perfectly matched to the returning home from a night out, telling someone about the drama of the night with its yelled refrain of “bruised lungs, high heels”. ‘Only One’ begins with a metronomic beat, calm and measured at the outset. But the theme here is a judgemental controlling partner and thus the atmosphere becomes chaotic in keeping with the subject matter.
CLT DRP’s experimentation comes to the fore at the opening of ‘Daily Affirmations’. What is that sound at the start? The opening lyrics are perhaps the best of on the album: “I’m not pretentious but it doesn’t stop me from spewing shit.” The lyrics continue in such a vein, open and honest, not afraid to express the most intense personal thoughts and feelings. This is followed by ‘The Door’, the shortest track on the album it gives the listener a moment to pause – it’s an instrumental and creates space and an opportunity to take a moment to breath. ‘Easier Than This’ opens with a stunning reverbing beat, it’s a slow build up and the track gives Dorrett a platform to demonstrate her stunning vocal range.
There is some irony that the recording of the album took place on a farm, with guitarist Scott Reynolds enjoying a morning trail run before starting each day, and the band cooking family-style for each other. To then create such glorious techno noise as final track ‘I Put My Baby To Sleep’ in this environment is fascinating. One of the highlights of ‘Nothing Clever, Just Feelings’, it sees CLT DRP in all their glory. Unhinged perhaps with distorted vocals and a soundscape which is buzzing with static. It then takes the listener by surprise as it slows right down. But then a gradual build-up progresses to the end, and all hell breaks loose.
CLT DRP have produced an album which is intensely personal, framed in instrumentation which is at times wild and chaotic but which shows the freeing possibility of throwing off the shackles. It is both exhilarating and reflective – and it will be utterly thrilling to hear live.
Words: Julia Mason