The Servants, Klak Tik’s second full-length release, is an album of tensions. Begun during a trip the band took to a remote part of Wales – including sessions in a chapel and underneath Parys Mountain – and finished back in London, it’s a recording that marries rural with urban, isolation with companionship, and simple with complex.
One thing The Servants does not lack for is ideas. The most obvious reference, as seemingly straightforward tunes are engulfed in echoing orchestral soundscapes and melodies are broken up by synths and skittering percussion, is Grizzly Bear. Klak Tik show you they can write pop songs, then rip them apart and reassemble them to make something strange and new. If it were a holiday, the album would be trekking through mountains rather than lounging on beaches. Every track presents challenge and reward in equal measure.
From the slow build of ‘Quenched Man’ to the kinetic and frenetic ‘Lohengrin’, all 10 tunes offer something. Yet perhaps there are too many ideas at times on an album which dazzles in patches but doesn’t always feel like a perfect whole. Danish frontman Søren Bonke said of a session underneath Parys Mountain: “As we stood there and sung in the darkness, deep inside Mother Earth, it was as if the whole world had its eyes closed or had never seen at all, but then we were let out under a perfect starry night and realised that the opposite was the case. A clear view is best enjoyed after darkness. Music is best enjoyed after silence.” It is no surprise, then, that among the bombardment of ideas, the standout moments of Klak Tik are when the band keep things simple.
‘Reborn’ lives in familiar territory, learning to see the beauty of the world away from the demands of everyday life, but is pulled off with breathtakingly gentle elegance. That is matched by ‘Fire Souls’, which finds hope amid the tragedy of the 2011 Norway attacks. For a moment you wonder whether the tricks are necessary, but it’s more complex than that. Because if this is the clear view best enjoyed after the darkness, it is also the silence after which the music is best enjoyed.