Clinic are something of a rock in the field of independent music, nowhere near as porous as many of their contemporaries. Do It!, bold title and all, contains some weird and wonderful music, staying true to the Clinic blueprint in one sense, while on the other showing renewed vigour for new sounds and approaches.
This doesn’t mean the Liverpool quintet have completely renounced their previous style. Memories, with its stomping gait, confirms they retain the penchant for distorted rocking, despite the weird waltz interludes that break it up. Shopping Bag, too, reinforces the feeling of standing next to the speakers as the band gig in an aircraft hanger, the squealing harmonica up front in the mix but the drums and bass further afield.
However it’s in the rather startling valse macabre of Emotions and the folksy Mary & Eddie that they really make an impression. The former is the closest Ade Blackburn will surely get to singing a ballad, and within its darkness lurks a strange romanticism. In the latter Blackburn’s verses are spare, but an exotic sweep of accordion, harp and tremolo electric guitar provide vivid orchestration.
Weirder still is Coda, again in waltz time. Here the band find a pastoral warmth, humming softly along to harmonica, harp and chugging organ, until a bluesy guitar solo asserts itself and Blackburn briefly commemorates the 600th anniversary of the Bristol county charter.
Loping beats remain in The Witch, whose groove wouldn’t have been out of place in the Hacienda, and in Corpus Christi, with its sustained church organ sound at odds with Blackburn’s “skin yourself” exhortation. Here the whispered chants carry a menace that wouldn’t be out of place in The Wicker Man.
Everywhere you turn different sounds reveal themselves. Growling guitars on Free Not Free lead to something unexpectedly graceful, guitars drifting across the sound picture like clogged windscreen wipers. Even in this quieter climate, it remains an effort to determine the exact content of Blackburn’s gritted teeth lyrics, but the emotions stay keen.
While a good deal of Clinic’s music harks back to psychedelia of the 1960s and 1970s, they remain a genuinely original band, and on Do It! reveal a vivid imagination that takes them far and wide. Far from being a band at a crossroads, as might have been implicated around the release of Funf, they reaffirm themselves here as one of our unsung independent music gems.