The Clientele is a London-based indie pop band who formed in 1991 and is currently composed of lead singer/guitarist Alasdair MacLean, drummer Mark Keen and bassist James Hornsey. The band have toured extensively in the United States, where they have experienced success. They release their latest album `I Am Not There Anymore` this month which follows `Music for the Age Of Miracles` which was released six years ago. A lot of the lyrics on the album were inspired by MacLean’s memories of the early summer in 1997, when his mother died.
The album opens with `Fable Of The Silverlink` which is a trippy offering that runs to over eight minutes in length but is over before you realise it. It`s a fairly reflective piece with strings and horns sprinkled along this journey which to me for some reason reminded me of Bowie`s more thoughtful, inciteful pieces. A brief instrumental `Radial B` follows which is this first of many instrumental interstitials that appear throughout the LP and change the focus in between songs according to the band. This track is a stark piano-based composition.
`Garden Eye Mantra` is a lush dub reggae and psychedelic meld that is halfway over before the vocals join and give it a kind of sound that Love manged on their ballad like numbers before closing out a little menacingly. We have a soundscape of crows and an operatic vocal during `Segue 4 (iv)`.
`Lady Grey` is a charming piece that has a delightfully retro vibe and for me brought to mind the Beatles `Strawberry Fields Forever` but with Donovan on vocals. A programmed drumbeat leads us through `Dying In May` which also has strings on this quite hypnotic submission.
`Conjuring Summer In` is a further brief interlude, piano driven with a quietly shared spoken word eulogy which ends with a forceful string arrangement. We have an almost classical piece with `Radial C (Nocturne For the Trees) ` which has a pensive feel to it.
`Blue Over Blue` was written by Alasdair MacLean about being lost in the woods with his son and is a quite mesmerising listen. A music box sound opens `Radial E` before a piano takes control.
I read that `Claire`s Not Real` was a chamber pop song but for me it did have some late-night jazz elements and put me in mind of The Moody Blues. Off kilter and erratically played strings allow a platform for a spoken word oration of youthful memories on `My Childhood`.
`Chalk Flowers` brought me back to my early teenage years discovering Yusuf / Cat Stevens and his gentle ethereal poetic compositions. There was almost the reverse of `Radial E` on `Radial H` which opened with a piano before closing with a music box sound.
`Hey Siobhan` is another radiant and illusory slice of melodic pop which is almost drenched in a kind of sixties nostalgia. I felt there were nods towards the early days of the Bee Gees on `Stems Of Anise` which appears to be named after one of the oldest known spice plants.
`Through The Roses` has a sort of serenely shared stream of consciousness or reminiscence of times gone running through it and is wonderfully spellbinding. There`s further reflection nigh on introspection on `I Dreamed Of You, Maria` another absorbing listen.
The album closes out with `The Village Is Always On Fire` which happens to be a reworking or reimagination of `My Childhood` but with a rolling trippy beat accompanying.
The Clientele shared that on `I Am Not There Anymore` they were trying to achieve the feeling of an out of body experience or dissociative episode and it certainly does have it autoscopic moments.
But for me it was a joyful, thoughtful, well-constructed and well-presented melodic and thought-provoking pop Magnum opus.
Rating 9 / 10