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The Clientele
God Save The Clientele
Merge Records
www.theclientele.co.uk


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 alike.

-Gareth Bowles


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