Dusted Reviews

The Clientele - Minotaur

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: The Clientele

Album: Minotaur

Label: Merge

Review date: Sep. 24, 2010

The Clientele’s new mini-LP Minotaur couldn’t have come at a better time. September, with its warm light, shortening days, encroaching chill, and attendant melancholy, is prime Clientele season. I’ve been loving you for so long / I’m just a shell of myself, sings Alasdair MacLean ruefully in the album’s closer “Nothing Here Is What It Seems” — how much more autumnal could a lyricist get?

Though it’s easy to accuse The Clientele of always sounding the same, perhaps a more accurate assessment of the band’s trajectory would maintain that it’s developed a consistent atmosphere. A Clientele record will always envelop a listener in a so-pretty-it’s-sad mood, heightened by MacLean’s cinematic lyrics that plant a listener in an incredibly particular mental landscape, a vision of the world as an English garden seen through a rain-streaked window.

In general, Minotaur continues in the bright, dreamy ’60s-pop vein of the band’s last LP, Bonfires on the Heath rather than the more Galaxie 500-esque washes characteristic of its first records. The choppy guitar strumming, chimes and ah-ah backing vocals on “Paul Verlaine” hearken back precisely to the months between Rubber Soul and Revolver. The lovely interplay between a mandolin and violin on “Strange Town” also sounds like the kind of move a West Coast record producer might have made that same year. Though a newcomer to The Clientele should not start here, it’s strong throughout, with the exception of the aberrant (if mild) guitar freakout in “Jerry” and a creepy piano solo, “No. 33,” which, if unobjectionable, seems unnecessary.

Even the song that deviates most from the band’s more typical sound limns its animating spirit. “The Green Man,” a spoken word track, is accompanied by ominous squeaks and atonal bells evocative of a train station. The piece describes an encounter with a ghost, that leaves the narrator breathing in “the dust . . . of forgotten piano lessons, church halls, school gatherings.” An analogous absorption in the past’s minutiae — both sonically and lyrically - oddly makes The Clientele inimitable.

By Talya Cooper

Other Reviews of The Clientele

The Lost Weekend ep

The Violet Hour

Strange Geometry

God Save The Clientele

Bonfires on the Heath

Read More

View all articles by Talya Cooper

Find out more about Merge

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.