From the eerie opening of the first track, Harmony, it is obvious that we are in for something just a little bit different with Clinic‘s second album.
The song comes complete with an infectious dub-style rhythm, Stereolab-like eclectic keyboard noise loops and a defining echoey clarinet riff, topped off by the kind of angst-ridden tenor vocal work that Thom Yorke is famously the master of.
“I believe in harmony / I believe in Christmas Eve / free for all your happiness / and no-one’s living on their wits,” sneers Ade Blackburn, as the listener stops what he’s doing, sits down and listens to a great album unfold.
Following a Radiohead support tour and comparisons (almost justified) with the legendary Suicide, Liverpudlian quartet Clinic look set here to emerge from the shadows and prove they are no Velvet Underground tribute band or, worse, a novelty act dressed as doctors.
Melodica and clarinet return for Welcome, with Blackburn’s voice taking on enough of an unsettling sneer quality to make him sound like Luke Haines‘ tearaway kid brother.
Then it’s time to take up where The Sex Pistols – or even The Kinks – left off with current single Walking With Thee. The melody, as is the case throughout the album, is simply constructed and there’s a direct line back to the New York style glam of the mid-’70s running throughout.
Pet Eunoch speeds things up in the same vein, sounding as impotent as the poor chap of the title, with incoherent yelps and howls set off against guitar work that Pulp‘s Russell Senior would have been proud of, an incessant bassline and a piano part that sounds like it could erupt into Great Balls Of Fire at any moment.
Next up, to calm it all down, we have the Yorkesque voice, quiet guitar and clarinet back for Mr Moonlight, a reflective piece were it not so unnerving. Come Into Our Room, meanwhile, is like a reprise of Harmony, as the Parisian house beats return and Stereolab-like keyboard loops invade your psyche.
The remainder of the album continues the Suicide-like minimalism and reflective beats, with The Bridge for a moment or two making the band sound bizarrely like an indie version of Blondie. Sunlight Bathes Our Home is the last of the upbeat tracks, before we float off on a wave of quiet keyboard and guitar interaction, cymbals and Blackburn’s by now addictive vocals which together make up For The Wars. Sounding like the theme music for a space movie that was never made, the track makes for a wonderful album closer.
With an album as fascinating as Walking With Thee, 2002 could be Clinic’s year. Let’s hope so.