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Kelman - The Happiest Man Alive

  by John Clarkson

published: 24 / 7 / 2005

Kelman - The Happiest Man Alive
Label: Liner
Format: 7"


Sparse, but powerful debut single from Kelman, the the current band of former Baptiste members and West London brothers Wayne and Marc Gooderham

It has been two years since Kelman, the current band of former Baptiste members and West London brothers Wayne and Marc Gooderham, made their live debut at a Pennyblackmusic Bands' Night. While they appeared that evening with a cellist, the Gooderhams have spent the time since then putting together a song book and further redefining their sound. Baptiste across the course of their five year musical history became increasingly more layered and augmented, but Kelman have gone to the opposite extreme. Already stark, but now working as a duo consisting simply of Wayne on electric guitar and vocals and Marc on drums, they have become even more sparse still since that first live appearance. An album, provisionally titled 'Hearts Break Every Day', has been promised for towards the end of year. The ironically-titled 'The Happiest Man Alive', which is limited to 500 copies and appearing on 7" vinyl only, is the two piece's debut single. "I'm on the way down/I can read the signs" sighs Wayne as an opening line on the main track. It doesn't get any less bleak. 'The Happiest Man Alive' is an instantly classic break-up song. His spiky, brittle guitar is pitted against Marc's light, eerie brushes of drums and a ghostly, whispering glockenspiel. Wayne Gooderham has always been good at describing obsession and claustrophobic tension, and 'The Happiest Man Alive' captures evocatively the whole unceremonious agony of being jilted, the gut-wrenching twin opposing emotions of at one level trying to remain dignified when things have gone horribly wrong ("And I won't say sorry/and I won't forgive/The best I can try to do is try to forget"), and at another of wanting time all over again and not being able to let go ("If I found your cigarettes/then I would smoke them just to taste your breath one more time"). The B side 'Undone' is mellower, and slightly more subdued, but equally effective. Soft peals of guitar and slow strokes of drums are pushed together. The couple Wayne describes in it are still together. Despite his forceful, needy cry at the end of "I won't let go/I won't let go", it is, however, a torturous affair between two already badly damaged people ("A love gone to fever/As wounded and as eager as me and you") and one suspects that it is only a matter of time before they too break up. 'The Happiest Man Alive' is about as far removed as possible from being the airy, summery song its name implies, but instead offers something infinitely more rewarding . For anyone who has ever had their heart broken, Kelman are the perfect blueprint.

Track Listing:-
1 The Happiest Man Alive
2 Undone

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Interview (2008)
Kelman - Interview
In what is our fifth interview with him, John Clarkson speaks to former Baptiste front man Wayne Gooderham about the surprising tentative optimism of his current band Kelman's second album, 'I Felt My Sad Heart Soar'

live reviews

Albany, London, 11/10/2007
Kelman - Albany, London, 11/10/2007
At a show at the Albany in London organised by the Uptight club, Ben Howarth watches one-time Pennyblackmusic Bands Night stars Kelman and Joe Gideon and the Shark play high quality sets
Betsy Trotwood, London, 10/5/2005

digital downloads



I Felt My Sad Heart Soar (2008)
Excellent, frequently surprising second album of dark, haunting melodies and atmospherics from fine London-based trio, Kelman.
Is This How It Ends ? (2007)
Loneliness Has Kept Us Alive (2006)
The Heart Is A Useless Ally (2006)

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