His Clancyness – Vicious

written by: November 8, 2013
Album-art-for-Vicious-by-His-Clancyness Release Date: October 7, 2013


“I’m going to make it a true last goodbye,” Jonathan Clancy remarks on “Machines,” a zippy, fluid swan song that lands, funnily enough, in the middle of Vicious, his second full-length under the moniker His Clancyness.

It’s an indelible refrain, one of many on this record. If Vicious has a theme, it’s persistence—going out strong, winning someone back. Clancy is a solo artist in the machine age, which means he can make his own band with the touch of a button.

His self-produced debut, Always Mist, was released in 2010 on limited cassette and re-issued in 2012 by Secret Furry Hole as Always Mist: Revisited.

He’s Bowie on a budget—borrowing expansive elements of Hunky Dory like chilly atmospherics (“Hunting Men”) and sassy lead guitar (“Zenith Diamond”) and adding a punky, D.I.Y. attitude akin to Wavves’ Nathan Williams.

For Vicious, Clancy recruited a small band, perhaps realizing how his glam sound benefits from a few extra hands for heavy lifting. Even with extras, though, the record doesn’t stray far from the bedroom-pop vibe of Always Mist: Revisited.

Clancy’s is pretty much the only voice we hear, and unfortunately, it’s not a malleable one. Lyrically, Clancy is vulnerable, but tonally, he doesn’t waver much from a “whatever” attitude. He cannily creates an intimacy with the listener, while presenting a carefully filtered view of himself.

Like an Instagram photo—digitally aged and worn into a nice, enjoyable tableau—Vicious is pretty and soothing and vintage-sounding, with hints of ’70s Kraut and glam rock, and a little ’80s New Wave, too.

Standout “Slash the Night” is a breakup narrative with Clancy bent on emotional revenge: “I can slash your heart a third time,” and, “I could burn your heart a second time,” he says with warning, pouring the gasoline but hesitating with a match in his hand. Meanwhile, the synthesizers throb and a few minor chords keep vigil.

Hearing a few wispy chords is a nice diversion from the Teutonic lockstep of guitar and mechanical drum. And there are a few warm, quiet moments halfway through Vicious where Clancy lets loose and other voices are allowed in.

Airy as a light snowfall, “Hunting Men” imagines the singer out with his men, pushing for some escape and blowing off steam. “Slash the Night” and “Avenue” are more brooding, suggesting he hasn’t yet let go of the aches that sent him away in the first place. Clancy has a gift for small declarations like, “When I have no light, be my torch,” from “Crystal Clear.”

In the end, it’s not the repetition or warm chug of a synthesizer that set Vicious apart, though they’re signatures of Clancy’s sound. It’s the little moments of introspection that remind you there’s a man inside the machine.

His Clancyness – Vicious tracklist:

  1. “Safe Around the Edges”
  2. “Miss Out These Days”
  3. “Gold Diggers”
  4. “Hunting Men”
  5. “Slash the Night”
  6. “Run Wild”
  7. “Machines”
  8. “Avenue”
  9. “Crystal Clear”
  10. “Zenith Diamond”
  11. “Castle Sand Ambient”
  12. “Progress”