(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

The Violet Hour (2003) , 6.5/10
Strange Geometry (2005), 6/10
God Save The Clientele (2007) , 6/10
Bonfires On The Heath (2009), 5.5/10

London-based Clientele, led by guitarist and vocalist Alasdair MacLean, play psychedelic-pop that is less trivial than usual Brit-pop, halfway between Love's Forever Changes and Galaxie 500's ethereal melancholy. A few singles and Eps led to A Fading Summer (March, 2000). Suburban Light (Merge, 2001) collects the early singles.

On their first proper album, The Violet Hour (Merge, 2003), Clientele played psychedelic pop that was both classy and derivative. Arranged with a cornucopia of delay, reverb and tape manipulation, sung from the bottom of the heart and paced to sink gently into the psyche, each song is a fragile weed. There are moments of relatively brisk and breezy nervousness (The Violet Hour, When You And I Were Young, Everybody's Gone), but the mood is mostly that of a languid, melancholy rendition of ordinary lives (Voices in the Mall, Lamplight, the piano instrumental Haunted Melody), that frequently evokes the ghosts of early, pastoral Donovan (Missing) and Leonard Cohen (Policeman Getting Lost). The music gets more interesting when it violates its own dogmas, for example when the soft, gentle, whispered eight-minute lullaby The House Always Wins turns into a Neil Young-esque burst of guitar neurosis, or when the band hints at mildly acid jamming in House on Fire and especially in the six-minute Prelude.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Paolo Latini)

I londinesi Clientele, guidati dal chitarrista e cantante Alasdair MacLean, suonano un pop psichedelico meno triviale del solito brit-pop, a metà strada tra i Love di Forever Changes e le eteree malinconie dei Galaxie 500. Dopo qualche singolo e qualche Ep giunge A Fading Summer (March, 2000). Suburban Light (Merge, 2001) raccoglie quei primi singoli.

Sul loro primo vero album, The Violet Hour (Merge, 2003), i Clientele propongono un pop psichedelico classico e derivativo. Arrangiato con una cornucopia di delay, reverberi e tape manipulation, accorato e soppesato per invadere gentilmente la psiche, il disco è composto da canzoni fragili e pulite. Non mancano momenti relativamente vivaci e di fresco nervosismo (The Violet Hour, House on Fire, e gli otto minuti di The House Always Wins), ma l'umore è quello di una resa malinconica di vite ordinarie (Voices in the Mall, Everybody's Gone, la lunga Lamplight, the brief Haunted Melody), che spesso evoca lo spettro di Donovan (When You And I Were Young) e Leonard Cohen (Missing).

The EP Ariadne (Acuarela, 2004) contains the eight-minute droning The Sea Inside A Shell.

The problem with so much retro-pop is that it is virtually impossible to make two consecutive albums that are worth buying: one is bound to be the shallow duplicate of the other one. Clientele's Strange Geometry (Merge, 2005) is not exception, although the damage is limited by the polished production, the dreamy tone, the autumnal atmosphere. While the press raves about their music, they have a hard time agreeing on what would be the stand-out track. The reason is simple: there is none. Try Make You Mine and Since K Got Over Me if you have to.

The Clientele retreated (artistically speaking) on God Save The Clientele (Merge, 2007) to lively and catchy tunes such as The Garden at Night, a brief interlude of surreal garage-rock that is also the only original minute and a half of the album, the Monkees-soundalike Here Comes the Phantom, and the sunny piano-driven instrumental carillon The Dance of Hours. They seem designed to evoke a summery Sixties feeling, plus two languid aching ballads (The Queen of Seville and These Days Nothing But Sunshine, both elegantly straddling the border between neoclassical and country music) that make even the Smiths sound positively uplifting, not to mention the romantic serenade with strings Isn't Life Strange. But too many of their songs sound like half-baked interpretations of the Hollies, the Monkees, the Association, the Turtles and so forth by a territorial cover band. As a five-song EP, it would have been a treasurable item.

Having added violinist Mel Draisey to the line-up, Bonfires On The Heath (Merge, 2009), Clientele penned the languid Bonfires On The Heath, the plaintive Never Anyone But You, the energetic Sketch and the dance ditties I Wonder Who We Are and Share the Night in one of their most eclectic tours de force.

The mini-album Minotaur (2010) contains left-overs and fluff.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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