FRI APR 26 @ Dan’s SIlverleaf
DOORS: 9PM / SHOW: 10PM
ADVANCE $12 / DOORS $15
‘Bubblegum’, the mind-blowing sixth album from Clinic, is exactly 40 minutes long. Usually, long-players by this most extraordinary British band clock in at a clipped half-hour. That makes an extra 33% of murky psychedelic/punk excellence. But there’s a little more to it than that. This one comes from another planet, baby. Here’s why.
Clinic – singular, ambitious, revered by fellow musicians – forever sound like no-one else but themselves, because no-one else could even begin to sound like them. Since the tail end of the ’90s, they’ve beamed in other-worldly psychedelic-pop transmissions from their own parallel dimension (geographically, it’s in Liverpool, but…), each with a vibe and quality consistent with its predecessors, oblivious to passing trends.
Across five darkly phantasmagorical albums, they’ve channeled their ’60s-vintage influences through inspired juxtapositions, compulsive experimentation in mood-elevating FX, a punky-surrealist perspective, and plain brilliant songs. Every track has broken the rules implicit in everything foregoing. There has never been anything cosy about Clinic’s reliability: cue up their latest record, and you always know you’re in for a brain-battering.
‘Bubblegum’, however, is a different bag of butternut squash. On one listen, it feels instantly warmer, lusher, less uptight. It glows like dusk in a balmy Indian Summer.
The revelatory opener, ‘I’m Aware’, ushers in an exquisitely languorous sound based around lazily-strummed acoustic guitars, muted synths, distant wah-wah, soft lyrical murmurings and, on this one occasion, quietly lavish strings. Any other band would’ve hired in the orchestra for the whole album, but not this one. There are instead all manner of strange sonic delights subtly laced through. The prevailing mood: hazy, wistful, bittersweet, evocative of lengthening shadows, and the imminence of autumn.
“What we did this time,” reveals their leader, Ade Blackburn, “was say, Fuck it, let’s take a more laidback approach. I guess we’ve mellowed, while keeping some of the edge.”
For ‘Bubblegum’, Clinic busted out a completely new creative system. “In the past,” says Ade, “songs would normally start from rhythms, and we’d build it up from there, always keeping an eye on what the drums were doing – a percussion thing. What changed this time is, we approached it more in a songwriter way – what the chords were, and what the melodies were – and put everything on top of that.”