“The Planets” – The Clear
Retro orchestral pop, of the minor-key, slinky variety, “The Planets” launches off an off-kilter four-note ascending melody, a variety of which provides the ongoing motif for this nicely crafted tune. Any sonic element your ear can discern as the song develops will reward the attention, from the well-placed chimes to the space-age electronic squiggles to the subtle contributions of the electric guitar, strings, and muted horns (or some synthesized version thereof). Best of all I will point you to the major chord that glides gracefully in and then out of the song’s aural foundation (an early example is on the phrase “mine collide” at 0:35). It’s not a hook per se but it’s definitely a defining moment. I can’t get enough of that kind of thing.
For all of its rather particular musical trappings, “The Planets” has an amiable air about it; it’s going after a vibe but it doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard or belaboring the point with slavish devotion. The effort is greatly assisted by Jules Buffey’s creamy voice; she sounds like a spy-movie version of Karen Carpenter, which is a better thing than you might imagine.
From Sheffield, The Clear are Buffey, Chris Damms, and Bryan Day. “The Planets” was originally on the band’s debut album, Patchwork, which was released in March 2016. It seems to be having a new life this year as a single. You can listen to (and purchase) the entire album via Bandcamp. It’s a melodic, evocative outing, with a groovy, Mamas-and-Papas vibe, definitely worth checking out.