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July 9, 2007 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

The Clientele – God Save the Clientele

London’s The Clientele don’t really make overly gripping music. Granted, their soft mix of wistful pop does get the ol’ feet tapping away at times, but most of the time the band sounds like an old man sighing in an armchair, weary with his days.

Their third album, God Save the Clientele, does little to break away from this description. With the exception of a couple of songs, in particular the up-tempo folk-pop of ‘The Dance of the Hours’ and the driving disco of ‘Bookshop Casanova’, the majority of this album feels a wee bit like an overcast day at the beach.

Which isn’t to say that this isn’t an enjoyable record. For the most part, the Clientele deliver tasteful and eloquent pop music, complete with slightly hazy vocals, hushed harmonies, and warm layers of guitar. Every bass line fits, every keyboard warble feels right, and every string flourish nestles nicely into the structure of the music. There’s a lot of beauty and sweetness in the autumnal sway of songs like ‘Isn’t Life Strange?’ and ‘From Brighton Beach to Santa Monica’, which makes for a nice distraction from Wellington’s current wintry wrath.

What makes the album slightly less enjoyable is the band’s excessively restrained approach. Most of the songs conjure up the image of a handful of musicians in the studio being strictly ordered by their producer to tone everything down, keep everything in line. Occasionally the band does flex and move, especially in the excellent drum shuffle jam of ‘Winter On Victoria Street’, but mostly it sounds like their potential for volume and flair is being censored in the name of pop taste.

Still, this album is enjoyable and worthwhile, despite occasionally feeling like an aural tiptoe down a hushed carpeted hallway. Hopefully the band cut loose a bit more when they play the San Francisco Bathhouse on the 31st of July.


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