The London-based band took songwriting techniques from their first Merge album, The Violet Hour, as well as the string arrangements from 2005’s Strange Geometry, and added Mel Draisey on keyboards and violins. The new four-piece band has created something wonderful.
God Save the Clientele is polished and undeniably beautiful. Their dreamy sound is filled with sweet melodies and is layered and full while still maintaining the classic Clientele retro feel.
The band took their psychedelic, Velvet Underground-inspired roots to only one song, “The Garden At Night,” which wraps up in less than two minutes, but everything else on the record is considerably different. Opening track “Here Comes the Phantom” acts as an introduction to the pop side of The Clientele, which is more pronounced on this album. It contains driving piano chords and cute songwriting elements like violin interludes while singer/guitarist Alasdair McLean sings, “My heart is playing like a violin.”
The more down-tempo track “Isn’t Life Strange” sounds so simple, but is reminiscent of the perfect 60s ballad due to the multi-tracked vocals and various dynamic shifts. “Somebody’s Changed” contains a great chorus filled with combinations of guitars, keyboards, and tambourines that sound like they could’ve belonged on a Byrds record.
It took them ten years since forming in 1997, but The Clientele are at their peak. God Save the Clientele is remarkable, and it couldn’t have been written by a harder working band. [KC]