I’ve listened to a lot of Future Girls, Modern Cynics, and Weekend Dads the past couple of years. What does that have to do with Cluttered? Well, they share a key songwriting voice in Matty Grace, for starters. But Cluttered is a new band and a new direction, albeit more of a variation than a reinvention. Cluttered is Grace (vocals/guitar/bass), Becca Dalley (vocals), Danny Bailey (vocals), Dylan Mombourquette (drums), plus help from Cassia Hardy and AJ Boutilier – some of whom are members of Jabber, Wares and more. If you like those bands, you’ll like this too. Accidents is the group’s second release.
Overall, this has a lot in common with the names above. It’s poppy in tone and structure, with Grace’s cynical and jaded lyricism. It feels upbeat, but it’s frustrated as hell when you listen closer: anger that doesn’t know where to go. For our benefit, that means it finds its way into song instead of some unhealthy expression, because the four songs collected here are all on point. Listening to them makes me feel good, even if the content within makes me mad at the world.
The opener is called “Burn All Of It,” which says what you need to know right there. The overall tone of Accidents is one of frustration at being stuck at home, being stuck in an oppositional world, and feeling out of place and out of time. That’s a lot to swallow, but it’s also self-empowering; a call to forget that hogwash and be true to yourself. The sing-song harmonies give a brighter contrast to Grace’s more blunt delivery of the main verses, nicely showcased in “Don’t Hold Your Breath” amid please to “gimme gimme gimme/ gimme asphyxiation.”
Flipping to side B, “Look Through Me” has the biggest Future Girls vibes, with power chord hooks that build up to the group vocal chorus. The catchy beats and melodies make this EP succeed, but the personal/accessible balance of the lyrics gives its depth and lasting power. Closer “The Toll” holds nothing back, beginning, “I’m sick to death of these dead IDs/ and scowls from every stranger that I meet.” Grace is venting about real life experiences, but we’ve all felt the scorn, humiliation, and consequent anger that results, albeit through our own personal lenses. This record is intimately personal, but everybody can sing-along.