A horrible hack

Clinic

Winchester Cathedral

Year Released: 2004
Format: CD
Label: Domino
 
Reviewed by Hari Ashurst on Jun 13, 2007
Clinic have happily existed just under the radar in England for a few years now, releasing consistently excellent albums. The one complaint fans had was that their output thus far was a bit, well, ‘samey’. With this album we are promised slight changes and more of a party atmosphere. Well the results are in and there isn’t a world of change, but the masks are still there and Clinic is still the best band in Liverpool right now. We’ll leave the NME to slaver over The Coral et al shall we?

‘Country Mile’ is a great album opener; it is reserved but lilts with tension. The vocals are still a curious half whisper; he spreads his inflection over every single word. I previously lavished praise on the single version of ‘Magician’ and it’s still the same triumphant indie rock call to arms it was a couple of months ago. The chaotic ‘WDYYB’ is just begging to open a mix tape, bursting with hooks straight out of Magazine era post-punk.

This album is consistent with a traditionalist view that a great album should build throughout the order, like an arc, reaching a peak at around track 9 or 10 on a 12 track album. We reach a peak on ‘Falstaff’ (track 9 for those interested), with diverse instrumentation and drumming that is reminiscent of some sections of Miles Davis’ ‘In a Silent Way’. The vocals seem clearer here, which adds a determination that carries a creepy essence in the lyric ‘hammering/at your door’.

Clinic seemed to drop out of nowhere in 1997 with a fresh song structure idea and strong original sound and a gimmick that worked. All these signs point to a good band, but a great band should be able to do something with these qualities. While ‘Winchester Cathedral’ is a timid first step, it’s a step in the right direction. Toward being a great band, instead of just a good one.

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