I Am Kloot, 93 Feet East, London <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

"We played in Manchester a few nights ago," says I Am Kloot's singer, Johnny Bramwell. "It was a full moon." That might explain the flavour of this gig. Bramwell's hair might be described as wild and wolfish and Kloot's songs writhe, snap and bare their teeth tonight.

Kloot's tour is a chance to promote their new Peel Sessions album and preview songs from their fourth studio album, due early next year. "Suddenly Strange", from the latter, opens the set with a snarl of intent. "Make claws of your fingers," sings Bramwell in a sandpaper rasp, "and cut off your nose".

First impressions suggest that the trio - expanded to a five-piece for tonight's show - play wry, warm songs as kitchen-sink dramas, hinged on everyday triumphs and tragedies. The churning "Gods and Monsters" and the rollicking "Life in a Day" describe the daily grind with earthy texture. Elsewhere, Kloot major in vividly crepuscular imagery. The ghost of a love is detailed with literary style in "This House Is Haunted" ("I always said, we'd be better off dead"), and something untoward is intimated by references to "blood on your leg" in the dark waltz of "Twist".

These songs aren't the musical equivalent of a Ken Loach film. They're gnarled, and brought to life with great drama. The startlingly versatile rhythm section is central to this, with the bass-player Peter Jobson and the drummer Andy Hargreaves bringing clout to the lurches of pace in "Sand and Glue", lending finesse to the buoyantly catchy "Over My Shoulder" and building "Because" to an epic conclusion. Lyrically, too, Kloot reach high: when Bramwell isn't singing about vampires, or a life drawn out on "the avenue of hope", he writes about skies, stars and deep waters, never shrinking from the sweeping flourish.

Intimacy and romanticism colour Kloot's noir-ish shadows, particularly in the barstool philosophising of "I Believe" and the last-orders ballad "Proof", where Bramwell's otherwise savage guitar-playing gives way to lucid, lovely finger-picking. The bewildering thing about Kloot remains, of course, a lack of success to match their acclaim. But they're loved passionately by those who've found them. As Kate Moss and Pete Doherty slip in to watch the gig, hardly anyone notices. Kloot might not be stars, but when they sink their teeth in, you can't tear yourself away.

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