A few years ago, Inspector Cluzo opened for Clutch. I was there with a friend. I loved them. She hated them. And that is, I imagine a story of the band in microcosm. There’s no grey areas when it comes to the world’s premiere (only?) farming blues rock band.

They even recognise it themselves. There’s a track on this – their ninth album – called “The Outsider”, which has the chorus: “I was an outsider there, I was an outsider here”. But you know what that means, right? If you fit in nowhere, you can belong anywhere you choose. And there’s so much going on here across these 12 songs that TIC are testing this to the limit.

“Act Local, Think Global” is a groovy little thing to ease you in. Kinda. Not many songs mention Costa Rican coffee in the first line, but then, its not exactly news to anyone that if you live on a family farm as Laurent (Guitar, Lead Vocal) and Mathieu (Drums) do, and sing songs about it, then they might be unique.

“Wolf’s At The Door” tackles conglomerates who come and take what they want. A bitter, acerbic attack on capitalism based on the bird flu epidemic – there won’t be any other tracks quite like it in 2023, which is perhaps why they polarise opinion so much.

There’s a tremendous sense of fun here, though. A real anthemic rush to the brilliant “Running A Family Farm Is More Rock Than Playing Rock N Roll Music” a sort of quirky, primal punk rock feel. There’s a bit of similarity with The Picturebooks, but there’s a little more colour to Cluzo’s work. A bit more tenderness, perhaps in “Shenanigans”, written about their friend Bill Elder, and which contains the line: “Some say he used to have hair, but I don’t believe it, I think he was born bald” and there’s a sense of fun never too far away.

No strangers to acoustic albums, “Swallows – When Are The Swallows Gonna Build Their Nest” is near enough folk, and the use of strings is beautiful. That one heralds a more gentle section. The title track is cut from the same cloth (although does explode at the end) with some lovely harmonies. It was written for their debut album some 15 years back, but never used until now.

“Rockophobia” is a standard 12 bar blues thing, except it mentions Iggy Pop’s dick – and your man liked it so much that Mr Pop appears on it. It makes sense too, given that it jibes at the safeness of rock. You can’t accuse TIC of playing it safe, though.

Furthermore, you can’t accuse them of not voicing their opinions. “The Armchair Activist” is as pure as rock n roll gets, but it’s point isn’t lost. These boys, though, they walk it like they talk it. Environmental issues are never too far away from the surface, either. “9 Billion Solutions” puts the onus on tackling climate change on us all and is another change of pace. Just like “Saving The Geese”, perhaps the only arena rocker that talks about such a thing. It’s not far away from The Stereophonics, and yet is a world away. Perhaps that sums TIC up?

Indeed, as “Swallows – When Will The Swallows Return” plays out in similar way to the other song about swallows here (itself not a sentence you’d write in another review) the thought strikes that maybe you can’t sum them up? Maybe The Inspector Cluzo are just out on their own, ploughing their own furrow?

“Horizons” is their vision in widescreen, though, and is worthy of your investigation.

Rating 8.5/10

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