Album Review by Mark Bayross
When Clinic emerged a few years ago with a slew of idiosyncratic singles (IPC SUB-EDITORS DICTATE OUR YOUTH, THE SECOND LINE…) and 2000’s well-received debut album, the Liverpudlians were a genuinely original, if slightly half-formed, blast of fresh air.
Now on album number two, their echoey jazz-garage-rock collision is something we (and thousands of rabid Radiohead fans) have heard before, as WALKING WITH THEE pretty much continues the INTERNAL WRANGLER theme.
Shuffling drums, eerie melodica and Ade Blackburn’s falsetto croon are all present and correct, and the mood ranges from quietly contemplative (MR MOONLIGHT) to punked-up tantrum (PET EUNOCH). Elsewhere, songs like THE BRIDGE and OUR HOME have an almost locomotive quality about them, driven as they are by sprightly bass and jangling guitar, while THE EQUALISER is a wall of clattering rhythm and has to be one of the few songs I’ve ever heard to feature a gong.
Occasionally the thumping drums and harmonica give the sound an early New Order quality, while the waltz-time closer FOR THE WARS sounds spookily like a lost recording recovered from the Titanic. Clinic have crafted an unusual and effecting sound – the only problem is that it runs throughout the album, giving the songs a rather samey feel. Perhaps unwisely, the band have also put the best song first in the running order – Harmony is a stunning, cinematic opener – giving the rest of the album a decidedly hard act to follow.
Nonetheless, there’s much here to recommend WALKING WITH THEE – I will always support a band that has the guts to be original – it’s just that the second time around, the music has lost its impact a bit.