Heres a cool band. Probably too cool for the likes of me. The first track on Clinics Internal Wrangler, Voodoo Wop lays out what the album is to be. Punchy, driven rock with clever twists, splendid arrangements, played by an excited and talented bunch who drip hipness like its hair gel. The song begins as a drum roll driven instrumental, then shifts into a loungy groove, then ends with a warbley call from the wonderfully named Ade Blackburn.
Many will be turned off by Blackburns vocals. They mix Thom Yorkes more introverted mumbling with some soft growly voice thats similar to something I cant quite pin, probably some Punk voice, maybe Siouxsie and the Banshees. The rhythms are partycentric rumbles, with a surfy guitar stabbing intermittently, while the synthesizer conjures sadly comic moans and epic drones. The album reveals new cool sounds and depths of melody gradually, with repeated listenings, and, if you can get past the singing, it should grow on you quite well.
Clinic remind me somehow of a band that was cool for a minute back in GGG called Jonathan Fire Eater. They were cool, and had their own sound. They went on pulsing rock romps, had a killer organ player, and the singing stayed low in the mix, because, well, they didnt have any songs. Clinic has that cool, that energy, but theyre a better band, and the fact that half the songs sound like studio experiments and jams seems more deliberate, as they eventually deliver the tunes.
A Pixies guitar submerged beneath the deep wobbling synthesizer has Internal Wrangler surfing a wave of gurgling glue. The Second Line features the most precious, fey vocal stylings. Its also the most sophisticated and interesting layering of sounds on the disc. Even though I dont really know the words, Ive been muttering Big boy evil Bill over and over this week. Like many tracks, The Return of Evil Bill is mostly mantra on top of a jam, but like most of the tracks, this works.
In an attempt at more songful balladry, the murky Earth Angel falls on the singer to nail it, and Blackburn doesnt bring a hammer. The slow building four-minute epic Distortions will win a lot of you back, though. Pain wracked vocals groan a beautiful melody. Every part is tasteful, with a slow swelling of volume and the subtlest increase in pace, then theres a five second surgical insert of a Velvet Underground cacophony right before the end.
They rock out inventively for three more distinct numbers under the next seven minutes. Then they close with Goodnight Georgie, a hypnotic nod out to Leonard Cohen.
Goodnight Clinic. I will buy more of your records.
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