Although local, I have never heard of Minneapolis-based Clidesfeld before. That being said, just one look at the album cover for their brand new ‘You Can Help It’ album and I was intrigued. It’s full of color and the little plastic babies at the bottom of the cover are actually the exact same ones I recently bought when throwing a baby shower for my best friend (who finally had her baby over the weekend– welcome to the world, Kiernan!). The brightness of the cover gives me thoughts about what this album may all be about but you never quite know so let’s jump into this album!
The first track, “About This”, instantly smacks you right in the face with a raucous sound of guitars, drums, and bass. It’s a full sound that is almost overpowering but it also catches your attention. The instrumentation quickly falls back making room for the vocals that are Clidesfeld. Whereas the instrumentation is loud and triumphant, the vocals seem to have a smooth and calm vibe to them while still adding to the wall of energy that comes in this opening track. This juxtaposition is absolutely perfect and makes for super distinct sound while giving you moments where you will think of acts from Muse to Queens of the Stone Age all the way to something a bit more fresh and, well, metal (check out the guitar work at the beginning and end of the track).
Things quickly slow down for “If You Insist” and bring a bit more of a chill vibe to the album. I can already tell, within just seconds of this song, that this album is going to be quite the rollercoaster ride. Along with a shift in tempo comes a shift in style. Whereas the first track was very intense and loud with a slight metal influence, this track seems to focus in more on a 90s vibe but with the same intense power laid out in the opening song. I love the stark difference between chorus and verse in this song. Although it is stark, this entire song works so perfectly together and instead of feeling glitchy, it feels like it makes sense which is odd with just how dramatic the changes are.
Dramatic is clearly the name of the game when it comes to Clidesfeld because “Reciprocate”, the third track on the album, seems to turn into a more aggressive punk world. Although vocally and guitar-wise I was very much getting epic Muse vibes, there’s something about the overall pattern of this track and the intensity of certain lines of words that gave me a punk feeling. You know what that means– this was an instant favorite of mine. The amount of aggression and emotion that comes through in this song is deafening. There are even certain words where you can hear Brandon Patrick Sullivan (AKA Clidesfeld) almost “break” when it comes to the emotion and the delivery. It’s a powerful element hidden in an already completely commanding track.
“Will It Hurt?” flips the switch yet again this time turning the vibe to almost a surf-rock influence. I am just absolutely floored by how all of these songs have a different vibe yet come off as completely that of Clidesfeld. Although completely different from the previous tracks, you can tell by the vocals and overall composition that this is yet another classic Clidesfeld song. There’s a rushed feeling in the beat of this one but, overall, the song doesn’t feel rushed which makes no sense to me so I’ll just say that it’s part of Brandon’s genius with how he pulled it off. This song is not long at just under four minutes, but it’s one of those tracks that is so easy to get lost in so don’t be afraid to play this one a couple times through before moving onto “Out of Time”.
Just when I thought I had a baseline all of the things Clidesfeld has to offer, “Out of Time” brings a more classic indie-rock vibe to the track. This is a fun track with an infectiously catchy guitar line that comes in and out throughout the track. Again, this song is all drama and rises and falls throughout the entirety making it a dynamic song that will absolutely keep you on your toes.
You may think you’re going to get a break with the sixth song titled “Sleep” but this song is far from the namesake. Featuring blistering guitars and quick-paced drums, this is a high-octane anthemic jam without the predictable song composition. Leaning back into the punk side of things, this song reminded me a bit of The Offspring and Bad Religion but, again, the smooth yet full of life vocals kept Clidesfeld name in mind as the song played. Another favorite of mine, I loved the pure intensity that reigned supreme throughout this song. It definitely left me wanting an entire punk album from Clidesfeld.
Things finally slow down ever so slightly for “Come Inside”. There’s a dramatic playfulness to this track that took me a second to shift into but, once I got comfortable, I loved it. The vocals are definitely front and center in this song. You really get to see the pure talent in Brandon’s voice. You can clearly hear how easily he slides from note to note while making sure to keep his silky smooth tone all the while giving you the drama you’ve come to expect from him. That highlight on the vocals continues into “Cast” while Clidesfeld continues to dig into this more theatrical vibe. I’ll be honest, the almost musical-like quality to “Come Inside” and “Cast” may not be for everyone but, as an ex-theatre kid, it was absolutely for me. Don’t be afraid, the vocals aren’t campy or over the top like some people think theatrical songs are rather they just are super emotive and dramatic in all of the right ways.
With the album coming to a quick end, I was excited to see what would come with “The Expense” but I wasn’t ready for what I got. This song starts off with a beautiful guitar part. I think it’s the first time through this album where I’ve honed in so beautifully on the guitar work. That’s not to say it’s not there this entire album but you are left with only that when it comes to the beginning of the track. As the vocals come in, this song switches from beautiful to beautifully mesmerizing. There’s motion in this track that will leave you speechless and feeling like you’re just lost and floating in the ocean with waves crashing around you. Okay, that’s a dramatic description of this track but, the truth is, this a perfectly dramatic song and I hope it hits you the way it hit me.
“For Andre” brings the journey that is ‘You Can Help It’ to an end in a stunning way. This final track is a paus to fondly remember lost friends. Okay, I stole that from Clidesfeld’s pitch but, honestly, that’s what you feel as this track eases you back into the real world. There’s something so tender and touching about this track that it’s almost an emotional rollercoaster in and of itself. Instead of continuing to tell you about all of the things that “For Andre” made me feel, I’d love to hear how it makes you feel so take a listen and you tell me!
Okay, now to address the elephant in the post. I refer to Clidesfeld and refer to Brandon Patrick Sullivan interchangeably throughout this post. When listening to ‘You Can Help It’, it would be easy to assume that Clidesfeld is a full band but, in fact, it’s not. Clidesfeld is Brandon Patrick Sullivan. Brandon is Clidesfeld. That’s right, folks. This is a solo project brought to life by one man which just adds to my love and admiration for this album.
I’m not sure what Brandon hopes listeners get out of this album but I can tell you that I got a rollercoaster of emotions, styles, and vibes. It was a perfect listen to both leave me with a million questions but also leave me wanting to hear more from Clidesfeld. It’s a masterpiece that doesn’t fit into just one box so, regardless of what you listen to, check ‘You Can Help It’ out. I’m sure you’ll find something you love within this album.
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