This is what it’s all about: melodic pop by indie eccentrics with an ear for a tune. The Clientele’s fourth album boasts poetic lyric writing coloured by frontman Alasdair MacLean’s haunted voice, to an elegant mix of piano, violins, guitar and drums. Quite the sonic oasis.
The tongue-in-cheek titled album God Save The Clientele finally brings the North London foursome some recognition in the UK, after touring the world and gaining great success in the US. America was smitten by The Clientele’s psychedelic textured, surrealist sound from the start – their hazy, romantic pop sitting somewhere between The Byrds and The Beatles via The Monkees struck home overseas.
Although mostly downbeat and calm, God Save The Clientele is comprised of dreamy vocals, MacLean’s blissful guitar harmonies, pencil-on-table percussion by multi-instrumentalist Mel Draisey, Mark Ken on drums and James Hornsey on bass. As MacLean puts it: “The band are setting free their inner Monkees; a lovely blend of Big Star twisted power-pop and country achin'”.
Garden At Night would enhance any autumn mixtape, while the group’s elegant attempt at melodoc power pop – the opener Here Comes The Phantom and the merger of violins, guitars and drums on Bookshop Casanova – are the most persuasive.
I Hope I Know You is intense and delicate with a hint of Simon and Garfunkel‘s influence, combining a poetic and idyllic lyric to finely tuned guitar play. Dance Of The Hours is whispered by Keen, Horsney and MacLean to tender piano notes and features a guest spot from Pat Sansone from The Autumn Defence and Wilco. The words are inaudible, disappearing into a diffuse blanket of voices creating a simply sublime track a la Broken Social Scene. Another stand-out song is the beautiful Queen of Seville, one of MacLean’s exquisite portions of pure heartbreak.
This is an album with multiple layers, each skin revealing the band’s broadened musical experience. The Clientele have mastered a refined sound that should propel them into native critical acclaim, even if it’s one firmly rooted in the stuff of legends past.