Advanced Copy: Clinic

Jeff Yerger

Clinic has always been that band that a lot of people liked but few ever heard of. Formed in 1997 out of the rubble of the “Brit-pop” era in England, Clinic followed more in the footsteps of the Verve than Oasis. Their eclectic and unique sound was based on heavy percussions and fuzzy organs, much like if Thom Yorke were the lead singer of the Doors.

In 2002, they recorded one of their most memorable albums “Walking With Thee,” which was full of post-punk angst and psychedelic swagger, and it got the attention of the likes of the Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire. It marked a turning point in their career, and Clinic has never looked back.

Clinic’s upcoming release, “Bubblegum,” marks the beginning of yet another chapter in their career, and it is something of a new venture from the Liverpool quartet’s usual ’60s vibe. The album introduces dream-like song structures and delicate melodies around each corner rather than the usual frantic riffs, but it still packs the same punch as the Clinic albums of old.

“Milk & Honey” acts as a good segue from the old Clinic to the “Bubblegum” Clinic. The song’s use of dulcimers, violins, tremolo guitars and lazy bongos build an eerily hazy atmosphere that is present on much of the album. “I’m Aware” works very similarly, trading staggering instrumentation for soft harmonies and damp guitar lines.

In the past, Clinic has rarely strayed from that dirty rock ‘n’ roll sound of the Stooges or the Velvet Underground and given themselves time to experiment with new sounds. On “Bubblegum,” Clinic has allowed themselves to branch out more instead of living in the ’60s, playing with “wah-wah” and “phasing” effects. This experimentation on the album provided the backbone to songs like “Bubblegum,” “Evelyn” and the bluesy “Forever (Denims’ Blues).” Some songs, like the ballad “Linda,” evoke the spaced-out acid-trips of David Bowie with its soaring, echoing guitar chirps, while other moments touch upon the weirdness of ’70sglam-rock. Then there’s “Lion Tamer” which sounds like a late-night jam session of the”Physical Graffiti”era of Led Zeppelin.

Produced by John Conleton (Bill Callahan, St. Vincent), “Bubblegum” marks another turning point in a long career for Clinic. Where similar bands like the Verve have failed to deliver after early success, Clinic prove here that they are more than capable of evolving and bringing something uniquely exciting to the table.