Album Review by Mark Bayross
Clinic have been garnering critical acclaim since emerging from the depths of Liverpool in 1997. Their off-kilter singles (IPC SUB-EDITORS DICTATE OUR YOUTH, MONKEY ON YOUR BACK, CEMENT MIXER and THE SECOND LINE) have been getting journos all lathered-up with their excursions off rock n’ roll’s charted territory.
Coming on like a cross between dEUS and the Pixies, INTERNAL WRANGLER is half an hour of echo-heavy strangeness. The bongo-fest-meets-surf-jazz of the opening VOODOO WOP is a good example. It is followed by the album’s catchiest moment (and the latest single) – THE RETURN OF EVIL BILL– funky drums, rolling bass and Ade Blackburn’s demented vocals, accompanied by the Devil himself on mouth organ. The tune is pretty much revisited later on TK.
Guitars come into more effect on the title track, with a hammond organ thrown-in Gallon Drunk style. Things get even stranger as proceedings continue: DJ SHANGRI-LA is a minute’s worth of looped organ and stream train blasts; the lo-fi shuffle of THE SECOND LINE makes you applaud their bravery releasing it a single, such is its oddness; while C.Q. sounds like punk rock Teletubbies on acid.
The so-quiet-its-almost-inaudible acoustic EARTH ANGEL, with its sound of waves lapping the shores of a beach, is a surprisingly effective exercise in understatement, while the trip-hop DISTORTIONS is a minimalist disco ballad, a sweet love song with predictably twisted lyrics – “I’ve pictured you in coffins”, indeed.
HIPPY DEATH SUITE sounds like it was not only named by Cartman, but he wrote the music – it’s “Great Balls Of Fire” meets xxxx, while the totally-out-of-tune 2ND FOOT STUMP would have Pavement urging them to take singing lessons. The bit where it goes all Brian Wilson in the middle is great, though. Even stranger, 2/4 sounds like unplugged gabba techno. The album finishes with GOODNIGHT GEORGIE, a delicately strummed soundtrack to the sprites dancing round the fire. Or something like that.
I don’t know if this was intentional, but my review copy jumped from track 12 to track 14. If Clinic are superstitious, then I wish them the best of luck. This album’s unusual and, for the most part, it works. It’s just not going to make them rich.