Spearheading a return to romance and sappy love songs, Clare and The Reasons are back with their sophomore effort, Arrow. After stealing what warm hearts exist on the indie music scene, the husband-and-wife duo wasted no time getting back to their Ditmas Park apartment where they pieced together a colorful collection of stringed harmonies, occasional brass melodies, 50s-era innocence, and of course, those delicate, fairy tale vocals. Once again, the effort has proved fruitful.
With a series of diverse and remarkably unclassifiable tunes, Arrow promises to please fans of the band's debut album, The Movie. The same mix of retro-vocals, robust orchestration, and subtle build-ups keep the audience guessing as to what each track promises, yet somehow there isn't a song which doesn't fit with the album as a whole. After setting a Golden Age tone with the opening tracks, The Reasons shift gears to tracks like You Got Time and Mellifera, which echo faint hints of prog rock without all of the electric noise. Also reminiscent of Movie yet surprisingly fitting here is the French tune Perdue a Paris, a renaissance-type romance set amidst the roll of military snares, distant trills, and bright trumpets the perfect song for falling in love or even just a good old-fashioned make-out session.
As much fun as the latter may be, there's no question that falling in love is the primary theme on the minds of Clare and Olivier Manchon (excepting the morbidly cheerful, Murder, They Want Murder which, while oddly catchy, is ultimately a bit disturbing). Joining a few other brave modern musicians, Clare and The Reasons continue to give the indie scene an alternative to the glamorized, postmodern apathy that dominates much of the music industry (and most of Brooklyn) today. And though the most visible response to playful love songs is often cynicism, even the hipsters are going to have difficulty finding a reason to trash Arrow's poetic romance as it takes one more chunk out of the sarcastic iceberg of irony. Of course, even if they do, it will probably only give Clare and her cronies one more reason to continue doing what they do. All we can ask is that they continue to do it well.