God Save The Clientele
That’s the title of the new album that’s due to arrive in April. But I think I’m already way ahead of myself. I’m sure many Americans have already witnessed The Clientele, as they supported Spoon on an American tour and also from the rave reviews for Strange Geometry, their third LP (after semi-compilation Surburban Light, and follow-up The Violet Hour) that have graced the web since it’s release. It also help that big indie label Merge are behind them across the pond. They are in fact from London, and it’s a fact that baffles me.
I can definitely understand why they aren’t more popular here. In a national music scene of bold dramatic statements of retroism and laddishness or every attempt to be bigger than the last big band or more different or whatever, who wants to know about a slightly morose band with subtle arrangements, a penchant for reverb and a tendency to sound ‘intelligent’? (I can’t think of a better term, sorry). One of the songs on Strange Geometry is spoken word prose! It would never fly in NME!
Regardless, the truth is people are missing out here. Songs from the first cut, Joseph Cornell and I Had To Say This, show off a jazzy shuffle over Alasdair’s voice-in-a-church-hall laments with a bit of groove coming across like a mix between Love and the Zombies. And that is a good combination.
Strange Geometry cleaned up the act, paring down the reverb and adding gorgeous string sections (from Louis Phillipe) and is worthy of all the praise it’s been given. They are not afraid to show off that sometimes do let loose, the solo in E.M.P.T.Y. and the coda of Impossible, dare I say it, ‘rock out’, but you know, not too much. It was never all about loudness anyway, the album being packed with those late evening reflections built over graceful fingerpicked electric guitar and shuffled drums. Since K Got Over Me is built as one giant melodic guitar line running through the whole song, Alasdair’s playing being another unique selling point. Songs like Spirit and (I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine are beautiful numbers, building and releasing gently like when you’re sat outside the club on a park bench wondering how the hell you’re going to deal with the morning. Strange Geometry hits the right amount of highs and lows, but previous album The Violet Hour took it too far, actually pushing to make you depressed.
And that (somehow) brings me back to where we began, a new album. Described as being ‘happier’ and introducing a new keyboardist/violinist, Mel Draisey, whilst incorporating ‘disco beats’. Intriguing to say the least, but maybe this will finally make people get up and take notice.
God Save The Clientele indeed.
From Suburban Light (2000):
The Clientele – Joseph Cornell MP3 Expired
The Clientele – I Had To Say This MP3 Expired
[Buy album from Amazon]
From Strange Geometry (2005):
The Clientele – Since K Got Over Me MP3 Expired
The Clientele – (I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine MP3 Expired
The Clientele – E.M.P.T.Y. MP3 Expired
[Buy album from Amazon] (highly recommended)