Thank the Lord that The Clientele's one idea is a bloody good one...
This London trio specialises in atmospheric ballads and that, ladies and gentleman, is it. They capture the narcotic melodic suss of the Velvet Underground, the beaten-up New York punk of Television and the dazed thrum of Luna each and every time. Thank the Lord, then, that The Clientele’s one idea is a bloody good one or this would be a hell of a tedious gig.
As it is, they draw you into their world of high romance and captivate you
with their walks through warm summer rain pitched with despair and desolation. ‘Joseph Cornell’ treads the same sidewalks as the VU’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, tempering the obvious influence by stalking through the Delancey Street of Camden rather than Manhattan, stopping by the nocturnal dog-walkers of Highgate Park and kicking up the litter of London’s late-night drunks.
The real life of painful remorse and regret that underpins The Clientele’s lace-like melodies makes them transcend their musical reference points. The imagination at play here is pretty much the reason why they have a song called ‘What Goes Up’ rather than ‘What Goes On’. After several, yep, atmospheric ballads they make you think that what they want is a massive Phil Spector production, a spacious sound that would echo through the sculptured walls of the Royal Albert Hall. There’s the scope for such ambition in these polished jewels, but right now in the upstairs room of a pub they nonetheless sound glorious.