“Cinematic” is an overused descriptor among music journalists, but in the case of Clare & the Reasons’ debut, it’s unavoidable. Clare Muldaur Manchon, who hails from Martha’s Vineyard, is an expert scene-setter (“I like to cook for you in my underwear ’cause our kitchen points to a wall,” she sings on the utterly romantic “Cook for You”), and her Brooklyn-based band ably provides the ambience necessary to flesh out these lilting odes to New York City. The Movie is another in a long line of post-9/11 albums paying homage to the Big Apple, though the locale of “Nothing/Nowhere,” wherein indie superhero Sufjan Stevens nicely complements Clare’s hip-swaying jazzbo routine, is left more abstract.
“Under the Water” and “Love Can Be a Crime” certainly possess a moody, wistful quality, but there’s nothing bleak or dangerous about The Movie to justify the shadowy noir quality of its packaging. And the album plays less like a feature-length flick and more like an assemblage of disconnected shorts: Aside from bookends “Pluto” and “Pluton” (the latter a spacier spin sung in French), which serve as opening and closing credits, there isn’t really much of a narrative thread. By its final stretch, The Movie starts to feel like background music, and let’s face it: Whatever’s going on in your Lower East Side apartment is probably less exciting than a Fritz Lang film.