by Ben Smith (@ben_osmith)
Clearance, Chicago’s four piece indie-slackers have released their debut album, Rapid Rewards, after several 7 inches and a compilation tape last year on Unsatisfied Records consisting of unreleased singles and demos. The Chicago based four piece plays a style of indie-slacker rock reminiscent of the classic ‘90s indie rock sound that sprung out of suburban scenes in California and the Midwest.
Rapid Rewards exudes a certain sense of confidence without sacrificing any feeling of the casualness in indie slack rock. Clearance is a band that clearly knows what they are doing and creates songs that leave the listener nothing but satisfied by the end of every track. Guitarist and songwriter Mike Bellis possesses a vocal style reminiscent of Stephen Malkmus, but avoids many of the abstract qualities found in Malkmus' writing and lyricism. Pavement is often suggested as a strong influence of Clearance, and while the vocal style of Bellis does seem to come from some influence from Pavement, there is a stronger connection in sound to Television or The Fall.
Clearance really come into their own form on the tracks “Nonplussed” and “You’ve Been Pre-Approved” with incredibly tight song writing and fuzzy guitars crafting the most energized warm jangly indie-rock that never fails to impress. Rapid Rewards second track, “You’ve Been Pre-Approved” has a churning rhythm with an infectious riff and distinct foundation that lays the ground for the rest of the album; a great mid-tempo indie slack-rock record. The albums fifth track “Rather Not Bother” has a bright, warm guitar part making up the bridge that doesn’t fail to blow me away no matter how many times I listen through the record.
With Rapid Rewards being Clearance’s debut album the ceiling seems to be tremendously high. Rapid Rewards is clearly a direct descendent of the 1990’s California indie rock scene but built and perfected today with even tighter instrumentation and songwriting. Clearance have nowhere to go but to the very top and it will be exciting to see what else they have up their sleeves for future releases.