In a melting pot of influences that appear to range from late '60s folk-rock (British and Californian) to the acid-hoarding Technicolor laptop twiddlers of 2005, Australia's Mark Mitchell fumbles through darling crowded melodies and private, first-person lyrics, with nothing more than the Clue to Kalo moniker to hide behind.
One Way, It's Every Way is Mitchell's second release as Clue to Kalo, and it's not as if he's still discovering his niche, as is sometimes the case on a sophomore album. Mitchell's work on One Way is often a group effort of instrumentation ranging from accordion, acoustic guitar, programmed beats and violin to whatever else he coerced his friends into contributing. Occasionally this record is a battleground for Mark and company, as the backdrop, though beautifully dense and arranged, comes off charmingly unfinished in its lingering, looped organ tones and stretched codas. On the other hand, Mitchell's harmonies are studied masterworks, as each skyward vocal track is layered upon the next, with the sunny production values that Gary Usher might have implemented during his sessions with The Byrds.
The aforementioned Clue to Kalo battle rages well into the night, even within the tracks themselves. Take the unlikely match-up of the rolling countryside flutes outro of "As Tommy Fixes Fights," with Mitchell's relentless announcement that "the summer's done." This light, summery ambience bounces off Mitchell's downer outcast inhibitions ("All that I'd write home about is what they cancel out"), even when they're lifted atop splendid, multilayered choruses in "Your Palsy To Protect You." "Palsy" opens with defined urgency, in both Mitchell's quickly spoken sentiments and the speedy drums that eventually vanish into a sea of programmed beats and looped synths. But the guitars remain, and the piece returns to its original elements, though it's quite different than Mitchell intended with his previous floor plan for the song's introductory moments. The urgency is back, but it's wrapped in a new tempo, giving way to lush, double-tracked and sadly exiting vocal harmonies, similar many Elliott Smith songs.
With all the directions that are explored on the satisfying coin toss that is One Way, It's Every Way, the album's title couldn't be more black and white: The sometimes wistful content that Mitchell reveals in the liner notes fares well against his airy, wondrous arrangements.