Following his collaboration with Rina Sawayama, Rina (an explosive hit of infectious songs informed by early 2000s pop and R&B), Clarence Clarity is back with his second full-length LP, THINK: PEACE. Though his production work with Rina could be described as subdued compared to his solo material – almost certainly an effort to match and compliment her energy – Clarence returns to the maximalist, glitchy weirdness which characterised his first record on this sophomore album.
The album begins with the uncomfortable droning of an erroring computer, before warping and layering into a soundscape which collapses into the opening track. It is, in a sense, a perfect representation of Clarence’s production style. A collection of off-kilter and unique sounds processed and forced into traditional pop structure; it is an approach to pop music matched by the likes of PC Music.
‘Adam and & The Evil’ is the first full track and the first of a barrage of insanely catchy songs on the album. Clarence’s vocals here, and throughout the album, go far into making these tracks what they are, never getting lost in the dense instrumentation of the album.
The songs are constantly shifting and always operating at full energy, though there is a fair amount of connective tissue in the form of interludes and outros. The highlights of these tracks are ‘We Change’ and ‘Law of Fives,’ though the best is found in the centre of the album in the form of ‘Vapid Feels Ain’t Vapid.’ It features a relentlessly catchy hook, held aloft by the glittering synths that permeate the album, where Clarence begs to be ‘[sent] back in time’ to warn himself of a failing relationship. Time, it seems, and the inability to control its effects is one of the recurring themes of the album.
Ultimately, in trying to create a more concentrated experience THINK: PEACE does not quite match up to his first album, NO NOW, though with so few weak tracks, it doesn’t fall too far short either. However, in a Life of Pablo-esque move, Clarence is, simultaneous to the release of this album, creating a playlist entitled LEAVE EARTH, the working title of the album. It is currently filled with alternate versions and cut songs and it is set to be updated throughout the year. Whether this results in a better collection of songs remains to be seen; it could result in a more complete collection or, well, it could turn out like the Life of Pablo. In the end, it is an album that deserves your attention, and the highlight from the playlist is ‘Rafters,’ one of the hardest hitting hip-hop tracks of the year, featuring A.J. Crew, whose omission from the album was completely surprising.
By itself, THINK: PEACE is an incredibly strong album full of memorable melodies, richly constructed production, and a toxic glitter soundscape. It’s a pop album that will probably never quite cross into the top 40 but it certainly deserves to.
Image: Clarence Clarity