Though obviously inspired by albums recorded before they were born, the Clientele’s Strange Geometry could only have been made today. This London-based four-piece hazily recollects the 1960s, with the full benefit of 40 years’ perspective. The band’s sonic palette is comprised of the best bits of that decade, less anything that’s since been deemed cheesy or psychedelically excessive: Warm, double-tracked vocals are in, sitar solos are out (see the new Darkness single).
The Clientele’s harmonies and chime-y 12-string guitars evoke the wide-eyed optimism of the mid-’60s. Lyrically, though, the band is made of heavier stuff: If Strange Geometry were The Wonder Years, it would be the episode where Mrs. Arnold is worried about the Apollo 13 astronauts or the one where Kevin thinks he’s made the cut for the school baseball team because his father saved the coach’s life in Korea. There’s a dark current running through songs like lead single “Since K Got Over Me.” “I don’t think I’ll be happy anymore,” sings frontman Alasdair MacLean. “It’s just this emptiness I can’t chase away.”
Elsewhere MacLean tries his hand at Dylan-esque surrealism: “Darkness comes at half past three / My own face is in the trees.” “Losing Haringey” is a mellow nod to the Velvet Underground’s “The Gift.” The obvious standout is “Impossible” in which a string quartet goes to war with a fuzzbox.
Geometry is an album unmistakably informed by the music of the 1960s, but the years all run together. It’s as if 1964 and 1966 got married, humped furtively, and produced an offspring that didn’t sound like Sgt. Pepper or “Mr. Tambourine Man.” It sounds like the Byrds, but it sounds more like the Clientele.
The Clientele tour dates:
10/23, Toronto, ON (Lee’s Palace)10/24, Montreal QC (La Sala Rossa)10/26, Cambridge, MA (Middle East)10/27, Northampton. MA (Iron Horse)10/28, Hoboken, NJ (Maxwell’s)10/29, Alexandria, VA (IOTA Club & Cafï¿½)10/31, Carrboro, NC (Local 506)11/1, Atlanta, GA (The Earl)11/2, Nashville, TN (The Basement)11/4, Austin, TX (The Parish)11/5, Denton, TX (Hailey’s)11/8, Tucson, AZ (Solar Culture)11/9, San Diego, CA (Casbah)11/11, Los Angeles, CA (Knitting Factory)11/12, San Francisco, CA (Bottom of the Hill)11/14, Portland, OR (Doug Fir)11/15, Seattle, WA (Chop Suey)11/18, Minneapolis, MN (400 Bar)11/19, Chicago, IL (Abbey Pub)11/20, Detroit, MI (Magic Stick)11/21, Cleveland, OH (Grog Shop)11/23, New York, NY (Knitting Factory)