Photograph by Brick Lane

Photograph by Brick Lane

The Clientele wear their influences on their sleeve. Taking inspiration from 60s pop acts like the Zombies but exuding a charm all their own, they return with their fourth album Bonfires on the Heath on Merge Records. The band has been around in some form since the early 90s and have released a steady output of music throughout the 2000s, though somehow they have managed to elude my awareness until now. After reading a blurb on their website  stating that they approved of surrealist poetry and outlawed shouting and guitar solos, I decided to give them a listen.

While listening, I had a sense of deep familiarity, not in the sense that I’ve heard this many times before, but the feeling of putting on a beloved and well-worn hat. This warmth and comfort permeates through the album, which leans toward the softer, introspective side of the pop spectrum. Though they seem simple pop songs, there’s a startling amount of depth. The distant sound to Alasdair MacLean’s vocals adds a lonely quality to the lyrics. Occasional horn flourishes appear in tracks such as ‘I Wonder Who We Are’, one of the more upbeat tracks present, which is marked by the use of slide guitar. Understated keys and strings accompany many tracks on the album, further adding to the atmosphere. It’s impressive that so many sounds that would often be played as gimmicks are instead woven organically into the music, never serving as a distraction.

I’m really not sure how I’ve missed out on the Clientele for so long. I can’t make a comparison to previous albums in terms of quality, but I can safely say that Bonfires on the Heath stands well on its own. I rarely form an attachment to bands this quickly, but the Clientele have managed to win me over.

The Clientele – I Wonder Who We Are
The Clientele – Bonfires on the Heath
The Clientele – Harvest Time

Tags:

— , September 27, 2009    4 Comments

Jens Lekman

Miracle Fortress -     Five Roses
#5

Miracle Fortress
Five Roses

Montreal, Canada
Secret City / Rough Trade

Based out of Montreal, Graham Van Pelt has created the closest thing anyone has come to a Beach Boys record of the new millenium. Mixing layers upon layers of guitars with catchy melodies, the similarities never end as he even has a voice similar to Brian Wilson. But there’s nothing unoriginal about it, because he picked one of the hardest pop artists of the 20th century to copy, so coming close is a pretty great feat. On top of that, he’s not trying to top the Beatles, so he did it all without having a nervous breakdown.

The     Clientele - God Save The Clientele
#4

The Clientele
God Save The Clientele

London, England
Merge / The Track and Field Organization

The Clientele’s first full-length release Suburban Light (a compilation of singles and compilation tracks) is perfect. Released in 2000, any unknowing listener would have to assume that it was recorded in 1966. That being said, their first two albums were unsuccessful attempts to re-create the soft, romantic mood of the earliest work. Not to say they were bad, they just showed no growth from a creative band with much potential. Their last release, God Save the Clientele, has the band expanding their sound, which has something to do with the addition of Mel Draisey on keyboards and strings, giving the band a much fuller, less subdued sound which dominated prior releases.

Lucky Soul - The     Great Unwanted
#3

Lucky Soul
The Great Unwanted

Greenwich, England
Ruffa Lane

The Pipettes are good, but Lucky Soul are great. Where the former had great singles and an album which didn’t quite live up to them, Lucky Soul have created one of the most consistently enjoyable albums of the year. Like the Pipettes, Lucky Soul rock the 60s girl group sound familiar to fans of the Shangri-Las and Lesley Gore. Just like those songs from days passed, although the songs have upbeat drums, strings, and horns, they are all tales of lost love and heartbreak, everyone’s favourite topics.

The Tough     Alliance - A New Chance
#2

The Tough Alliance
A New Chance

Gothenburg, Sweden
Sincerely Yours / Summer Lovers

Sweden is taking over the pop world. I like almost everything I hear from Sweden, and one of the best examples is The Tough Alliance’s new album A New Chance. It’s definitely a retro-sounding album that takes its cues from 80s new wave and 90s dance, but don’t let that fool you, because this album is unlike much you’ve heard.

Jens     Lekman - Night Falls Over Kortedala
#1

Jens Lekman
Night Falls Over Kortedala

Gothenburg, Sweden
Secretly Canadian / Service

Oh Jens. His songs are great, and although all of the albums are dubbed “collections of recordings” spanning several years, all of the songs on his newest release Night Falls Over Kortedala play perfectly as an album. His charming wit and somewhat bizarre/cute romanticism find a home among consistently perfect melodies and lush arrangements. This album is Tigermilk good.

Tags: , , , ,

— , January 17, 2008    4 Comments

The Clientele

The most true advocates of 60s pop in music today. It’s true, but they haven’t ignored history since then, adding in the melodic sensiblities of Galaxie 500, Felt, Television, etc. The first time you hear The Clientele it’s not hard to confuse them with a band actually from the 60s. Well, this time around they’ve added a girl, Mel Draisey, on strings making their arrangements ever more lush (Sorry I couldn’t find an updated picture of the band), and will be releasing the new songs as God Save The Clientele! on May 8. Here’s a sneak peak of the album.

The Clientele – Bookshop Casanova

Check them out on their North American tour soon (details on their MySpace). And if you still can’t get enough, go and buy Suburban Light, their “Singles and Beyond” collection.

Tags:

— , April 4, 2007    Comments Off on God Save the Clientele! Nears Release