Monday, 29 August 2011

Strange Geometry

Who: The Clientele
What: Strange Geometry
When: August 2005

Ah, the Clientele, it’s cute, and pretty, and full of jangly guitars and reverb. There’s a central theme of melancholy and loneliness that runs throughout the album and, songs like ‘My Own Face Inside the Trees’ reflect that mood, with a melody you can really get behind. It’s hard not to mention others when discussing the Clientele, so lets get it out of the way, their melancholy is infused with a healthy dose of the shimmering pop of the Zombies, Felt and Galaxie 500.

This album paints a striking picture, longingly detailing wonderful dreamy landscapes, bringing only one word to my mind. It’s funny how a word can get stuck in your head. Someone once described the Clientele to me as “pastoral” and you know what? It really is, it’s the perfect description, there is no other word.

For me, the standout track without a doubt is ‘E.M.P.T.Y’. Beginning with said delightful pastoral pop, it’s sunny and relaxing, then, after the second minute and thirty fourth second of such pleasing pop, something completely unexpected: a psych breakdown, complete with a ‘60s guitar solo. Then, they go back to that delightful melody like nothing happened, it really catches you off guard, and is a sublime musical moment.

Given the consistent quality of Strange Geometry, there is one song that I absolutely have to take issue with: ‘Losing Haringey’ which consists of a spoken narrative against the beautiful flow of music behind it. The narrative itself is really interesting, the narrator tells us the story of his realization that he is “in a photograph” taken by his mother in 1982 (he even says “1982-ness” at one point) – It’s detailed and complex, and utterly enveloping. But its placement makes it pointless – I would’ve understood if it was the closing track, but instead it jars, disrupting the flow of the album near its end. And the end is a nice one; I like it when he sings.

They kinda remind me of an indie film. They’re really pretty, and I like them a lot. Unfortunately, they’re a little limited in scope, which makes me think that they’re essentially stuck in a stylistic rut, an extremely pretty rut, but a rut nonetheless. They don’t seem to want to do anything other than what they're doing, but at least they take the time to be particularly observant as they mine their territory. The album is almost instantly effective because of this, and the Clientele’s commitment to their own sound has crystallized into something almost wonderful. Almost.

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