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Clare & the Reasons: 'Science Fiction Man'

Clare Muldaur Manchon of Clare & the Reasons.
Clare Muldaur Manchon of Clare & the Reasons.

The Movie, the debut album from New York-based band Clare & the Reasons, is quirky, to say the least. The record is an 11-track foray into theatrical, space-themed chamber pop that falls somewhere between the score of a Broadway musical and a collection of sweet and playful nursery rhymes.

"I think this record is good make-out music," frontwoman Clare Muldaur Manchon says. "It might possibly be good cleaning music too. Is that weird?" Maybe, but whatever the music may be good for, there is no arguing that the arrangements, orchestrations, and Clare's beautiful voice exude a simple charm.

Opening with "Pluto," an ode to the "overthrown" planet (and closing with "Pluton," a French re-imagining of the song), the record makes its cheekiness immediately apparent. But even though the band might come across as a sort of joke, the expertly orchestrated music proves otherwise. Clare says the group goes to great pains to find the perfect musical tones, textures, and arrangements for each song. "When Olivier Manchon and I have an idea, we shape them around the group and what we have available to us, and on this record, we had a small army."

This much is made clear in the liner notes, which contains a list of 21 collaborators, including Sufjan Stevens and Van Dyke Parks. With so much talent, the lush instrumentation is varied, while maintaining the same bright and cheery sound. On "Under the Water," the effect is utterly gorgeous. Sweeping strings evoke images of a beautiful sunny summer day, laying in the grass by a pond, complete with the chirps of crickets and the sound of wind through the trees. The sweet staccato harpsichord notes of "Science Fiction Man" are the soundtrack for a love story set to beautiful, cosmic imagery: "Universes crash, painting a color I have never seen before / And I, I am with you, and I adore you."

Clare & the Reasons formed behind its lead singer three years ago. "I did some solo career dabbling, but it is much less exciting to me," Clare explains. "I feed so much off of other peoples talents, they make me a better musician, they kick my derriere, and they are great friends."

Download this song in the Second Stage podcast.

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Email host Robin Hilton.

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Conor McKay
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