You might be tempted, as I did, to label Clockwork as an American born Mumford & Sons about ten seconds into the first track of their "Out To Sea" EP. And yes, the opening track "Fire" sounds heavily drenched in the earthy London tones of M&S, minus the accents and the frantic banjo strumming. But if you go beyond that, into the meat of this Saint Louis band's latest album, you'll find a sound that is all theirs and definitely worth listening to.
From the start, "Out To Sea" stays fairly consistent in its sound, with very strong guitar work, percussion, and lead vocals courtesy of Jordan Slone. Slone's voice stands well on its own, but when backed up by Logan Mohler and Logan Slone, everything gets a choral upgrade, elevating each track it touches.
With "Fire", Clockwork's EP comes running out of the gates with an energy that hardly wavers until the end. The lyrics carry a soulful, artistic flare that are carried fully by the vocals of the brothers Slone and Mohler. "Fire" carries themes that will become commonly found throughout the rest of the album: love, feeling lost, self awareness, wandering through the world without focus. In anyone else's hands it would be so much Tumblr teenage poetry fodder, but with Clockwork, they became much more.
"Lock Eyes" is a guitar-heavy rocking departure from the more gentle, wispy mood of "Fire". It is followed by "Just Breathe", which slows the tempo down but is punctuated by a ever present clapping that gives the song a bit of playfulness against its darker lyrics. It shows that sometimes, Clockwork does its best work when they strip off the bells and whistles and make music with the barest of essentials.
There is nothing wrong with "What Makes You Think". It must be part of rock and roll law that every band needs a song that declares their girlfriend to be a fake poser who they don't actually care about - which, guys, if you don't like her, just break up. That aside, there's nothing egregious about this track. It's just a step down from the rest of the EP, and is the weakest track of the bunch. Having said that, "What Makes You Think" is worth a listen for Mohler's on point percussion set.
"Calling You Out" is another song where every part of the machine just works, from the reverberating vocals to the guitar work, backed up by additional instruments that unfortunately don't have any artist credit anywhere in the liner notes. Come on, guys, inquiring minds want to know!
My favorite track, hands down, is "Tell Me Something". Jordon Slone's voice shines through like never before, giving his lyrics that additional emotional weight that makes a song great. When all singers vocalize together, it's amazing. It is followed by "Hear Love" and "Jezebel", two very strong tracks for very different reasons. "Hear Love" is an anthem for the hopeless romantic who has become a little jaded in life, while "Jezebel" is a plea to a beautiful and dangerous woman who has taken hold of this poor man's heart and won't let go. With this, the album finally reaches a slowing point, just in time to fade to black on the back of Slone's searching voice and guitar.
In "Out To Sea", no one is attempting to reinvent the wheel when it comes to alternative rock music. Every song is a solid hit, several of them very radio ready (especially "Lock Eyes", which I'd be surprised if it has never enjoyed heavy rotation on college radio yet). If this album was meant to convince listeners that this Saint Louis bred band of men are ready for a larger stage, then color me thoroughly convinced.