Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Clinic – Bubblegum (Domino Records)

Over the past decade, Clinic have released five albums full of wailing organs, gritty guitars and an overall love it or hate it kind of sound. Album six was always going to be big for the Liverpool based four piece; they could stick with what they know and release another generic Clinic album or they could push the boat out, take some risks and write something altogether new. Happily they have gone for the latter option with ‘Bubblegum’, an album that is much more relaxed and accessible than their previous releases, without losing their sound completely.

Album opener ‘I’m Aware’ starts with dreamy vocal oohs that lead into a lazy acoustic rock sound. As the album progresses there are a lot of moments like this, laced with charmingly simple string sections and lots of psychedelic wah-wah guitars. The obscure organs and gritty guitar tones of old are much more subtle within the tracks, creating a more edgy sound in what would otherwise seem like your average pop record. ‘Radiostory’ contains a bizarre monologue that after a couple of listens I can’t quite decide if I like or not,: It is a very inventive interlude in the middle of the album, but at the same time it comes along a little unexpectedly and then is forgotten about by the time next song ‘Forever (Demis’ Blues)’ comes shuffling along.

As the rest of the LP plays through, you do feel like everything has become all too familiar in this new Clinic sound. The songs although diverse in style do become quite predictable (if you ignore the monologue at least) and by the time the last note is played in album closer ‘Orangutan’ I was reluctant to listen to it again. There are some great moments in ‘Bubblegum’ and I think this new style is a positive change in Clinic’s career, however I do feel like it needs a little tweaking in future releases to stop it becoming too repetitive. 6/10


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