Here's a timely record: the third album from England's The Clientele
is perfectly mellow, reflective stuff for the coming fall. The band
had managed to fly under my radar up until now, but that's my loss.
They turn out to be one of those groups who are obviously influenced
by former greats - The Byrds, Love, the gentler side
of The Velvet Underground and some more recent artists like
Felt - but in the Clientele's case they mix those influences
into something unique.
God Save The Clientele is a set of beautiful, semi-acoustic
tunes with a wistful, psychedelic feel - think "Draft Morning"
or other mid period Byrds, even a hint of Monkees on the jaunty
opener "Here Comes The Phantom", mixed with some more up
to date flavours like the aforementioned Felt, maybe even Go-Betweens
or Kings Of Convenience. Singer Alasdair McLean's sweet,
heartfelt voice and strings arranged by Louis Philippe hold
everything together; MacClean has the same breathy intimacy as Mojave
3's Neil Halstead, even bringing to mind Green Gartside
of Scritti Politti at times. The album was recorded in Nashville
by Lambchop's Mark Nevers, but there's not much of an
American feel here apart from the occasional pedal steel guitar.
The band maintains a consistently high standard, evoking a perfect
autumn through songs ranging from the breezy pop of "Here Comes
The Phantom" to languid ballads such as "No Dreams Last
Night" and "Isn't Life Strange". "From Brighton
Beach To Santa Monica" is a mid-tempo standout; with its captivating
harmony vocals and ringing, descending guitar motif, this could really
be a lost track from The Notorious Byrd Brothers. "Autumn's
coming in ..." - perfect.
Funnily enough the album was only just released in the UK, despite
having been out over here for a while now through the Clientele's
deal with the always-tasteful Merge Records. Maybe chasing the American
market is a good idea; most of the tunes here would be perfect for
an emotional moment in some movie or TV show, while the guitar rave-up
"The Garden At Night" would be perfect for an authentic
60's club scene. Gear !
God Save The Clientele is a truly lovely album that grows
on you with each listen, insinuating its many charms subtly but indelibly.
Perfect listening for grey daybreaks and shimmering autumn evenings
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