The Cliks - Dirty King
Record Label: Tommy Boy Records
Release Date: June 23, 2009
The Cliks aren't exactly a behind-the-curtain, take-it-easy kind of band. Having first garnered attention in their local Toronto scene for their scorching live shows, they have added onto their fan base in other, more unorthodox, ways. What everyone seems to key on when they write about The Cliks is their frontman, Lucas Silveira, who is a transgendered male. Truth be told, when I spun their latest release, June's Dirty King, for the first time, I hadn't yet done any research on the band. I had looked up their name on a list, went to their music page, liked what I heard, and requested the album to review. I listened to the 11 tracks that compromise Dirty King and I decidedly liked it. It was a good mix of slow, anthemic ballads and more upbeat, catchy pop rock numbers. When I looked into The Cliks, I found out that their vocalist is a transgendered female-to-male who leads an all-girl band. What does this show, you ask? Well, it doesn't show anything. All I know is that Dirty King rocks and that I respect any adversity that I'm sure Silveira has had to overcome.
On their sophomore full-length release, it's easy to see how The Cliks can be accepted both by lovers of the underground music scene in Toronto as well as the live studio audience of MTV's TRL, which they were featured on. Opener "Haunted" is a guitar-centric, slow-paced, ballad-like track which especially showcases Silveira's strong, androgynous voice. His vocals on the track weave through a catchy chorus but also step aside to lead into the bridge, where The Cliks flex their instrumental muscles with a well-placed guitar solo. This leads into the title track, one of the most solid songs on the record. It starts off with a surf guitar riff before darkening down into a chorus which is as intense as it is accessible to your foot tapping the ground in rhythm.
Hardly all of the songs on this album are ballads. Those that approach a ballad state, like "Not Your Boy", "Red and Blue", "Love Gun", and closer "Animal Farm", might catch some dozing off listening to Silveira's durable voice while it catches others basking in the rock and roll that is ever-present in the instrumentation. The Cliks aren't doing anything here that hasn't been done before - but that doesn't mean they're doing anything wrong. On the flip side of the coin, tracks like the back-to-back "Henry" and "Emily", "Career Suicide", and "We are the Wolverines" are obvious windows into how catchy The Cliks' volatile style can be. Of these, "Career Suicide" presents the strongest vocal performance on Dirty King while "We are the Wolverines" hits hard with a piercing guitar riff and light background vocals that end the track in a rocking fashion.
Some people think that the best albums are the ones that you can't decide what your favorite song is. Well, Dirty King is far from being one of my favorite albums, but it does present me with this circumstance. When you're in the mood for some simple, no-questions-asked pop rock and roll, this isn't a bad album to turn to, and when you're caught up in listening to Dirty King, the album as a whole flows so smoothly that it's hard to find one standout track. The only thing that is for sure is that there are several good songs on this album (with my personal favorite probably being "Red and Blue") and that we haven't heard the last from The Cliks. This album is sure to only add fuel to their quest as musicians and Lucas Silveira's life journey.