The Clientele The ClienteleMinotaur
The Clientele have been making sad, 60’s-style albums, reverberating with echoes of the past, for a few years now, and so far, we had seen about the same degree of evolution as the Pacific Ocean: zero (or almost imperceptible variations, like the curvature of the Earth as seen with the naked eye, which you notice in the force of gravity, but can’t hold in your hand). The production of Alasdair MacLean and his fellow band members is like concentric circles on the water after tossing a rock into it: a dizzying, pleasant trip with small bumps in millimetric waves. “The Violet Hour” was the only (ultraconservative) attempt to change course a little and explore other areas, but it didn’t last very long. And as a result, we have the instant mental association “The Clientele = sweet retro pop,” and in general we already know what we’re going to find. So I suppose that for their fans, “The Green Man” is almost a cliff-hanger. The ambient sound that we can hear in the background could be that of a factory or of the alleys of Whitechapel after midnight, when Jack comes to life again and disembowels ghosts. MacLean, a little man with bug eyes and a pose like a rapper, speaks instead of singing, and you almost think that the one talking to you is really Raymond Robinson. “The Green Man” is the house on the hill, and the path to it is called “No. 33”, a black piano instrumental piece, with a new-age Beethoven at the controls, to be kind with our references.
Except for these two titles and the sort of Munch-like cover, and however much of a minotaur MacLean makes himself into ( “Minotaur”, intelligently taking advantage of a riff to insist on melodic melancholy), the darkness officially ends here (this is an extended play, not “69 Love Songs”), and we go on to increase our stock of sad experiences, or simply gushing goodness (as happens with “Gerry”), with a slight movement towards, touching more pop-rock schemes ( “Paul Verlaine” even has rhythm (!)) or French-sounding ones (and with role videogame arrangements on “Strange Town”).
Nothing new under the sun, then, except for the two cuts with atmospheres closer to the world of Stephen King’s “Portrait of Rose Madder” (minotaur included). It’s another album, then, that The Clientele’s fans and unconditional lovers of all things sad, screeching, and painful will like (laugh at Ron Sexsmith ), as seen on “As the World Rises and Falls” –and his way of singing unwillingly (that is to say, with a retro, but not completely crooner style)– or on “Nothing Here Is What It Seems”, another of the group’s brand of sad songs, in the recording career of a group in love with it’s own sadness.