Music » Rhythm & Views

Clinic: Free Reign (Domino)

by

comment

Liverpool's Clinic could never be accused of laziness. Since 2000's Internal Wrangler, they have released an album every other year. Their rate of productivity has also been a source of criticism—specifically, that they always sound the same. (The fact that the band has always performed wearing surgical masks and scrubs doesn't help.) However, this is both false and a bit unfair.

Heavily influenced by '60s psych/garage, '70s Krautrock and British post-punk, Clinic's sound is, by nature, limited to those parameters. However, listening to their back catalog reveals anything but a band simply repeating itself. While 2002's Walking With Thee was heavy on the dubbed-up melodica, and 2008's Do It! collected psych romp stomps, Free Reign dabbles with a more-experimental approach. The album's title is a good description of the songs: It lets go of some of their familiar trappings, while retaining some of the best aspects of previous albums.

Opener "Misty" comes about as close to Kid A territory as Clinic is ever likely to get, and it's a refreshing start for anyone expecting a repeat of the straight-up pop of 2010's Bubblegum. "Cosmic Radiation," on the other hand, could easily be mistaken for an outtake from the last Flaming Lips album (besides sounding like the name of a Lips song).

While drum machines and wah-wah pedal abound on "Miss You," the clarinet on trippy album closer "Sun and the Moon" even contains a vague nod to the bridge of "I'm Only Sleeping" by their more-famous Liverpudlian forefathers.

This is good stuff.

Add a comment