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The Clientele - God Save The Clientele

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Artist: The Clientele

Album: God Save The Clientele

Label: Merge

Review date: Aug. 3, 2007

Based in London and showing the influence of British invasion-era pop bands, the Clientele always sounded like a quintessentially English band. Notably, then, their third album, God Save the Clientele, was recorded in Nashville and produced by Mark Nevers, who is probably best known for his work with Lambchop. The change of scenery and collaborators has resulted in some minor changes to the band’s sound, adding modest, discrete and tasteful country elements to the modest, discrete and tasteful psych elements of their previous two albums, The Violet Hour and Strange Geometry. This branching out works, and the Clientele remain a consistently likable and engaging band.

Any resulting changes in their sound are ones of degree rather than kind, of course, but a few things about God Save the Clientele stand out. First, Alasdair MacLean’s songwriting continues to be influenced by the canonical late-’60s figures, but many of the songs here, such as the opening “Here Comes the Phantom” and two songs from the middle of the album, “The Queen of Seville” and “These Days Nothing but Sunshine,” sound much like the glossy country melancholy of, yes, Lambchop, with the guitar pop working against a background of pedal steel and piano.

Second, the psych elements that were most obvious on Strange Geometry are not discarded, although they are pretty much cabined to two songs, the brief spoken-word frenzy “The Dance of the Hours” and the even briefer spoken-word and guitar freak-out “The Garden at Night.”

Third, the Clientele has sharpened its pop sensibility; as good as the songwriting was on the first two albums, the songs could occasionally sound a little too humble, with the sharp edges safely wrapped in the gauzy production. On this record, however, the verses of a few songs give way to unabashed power-pop hooks, as on “Somebody Changed” and “Bookshop Casanova.” (Although, perhaps tellingly, both of these songs are placed on the second half of the album.) The addition of multi-instrumentalist Mel Dralsey probably helped this process, as the band now can make use of a broader array of instrumentation.

The Clientele will be an interesting band to watch in the next couple of years. Formed in 1997, they released singles and EPs for six years before finally releasing their first full-length album in 2003. Having seemingly hit upon the formula that they wanted, they’ve released an album every two years since then. God Save the Clientele hints, however, that the group continues to evolve, ever so slightly, and that it might continue incorporating new elements into its repertoire. It remains to be seen where this quintessentially English band might be headed next, and if any more drastic changes may be in the offing.

By Tom Zimpleman

Other Reviews of The Clientele

The Lost Weekend ep

The Violet Hour

Strange Geometry

Bonfires on the Heath


Read More

View all articles by Tom Zimpleman

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