Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004
On the back cover of Clinic's third album is an image of an upright piano made up of separate photographs of parts of the instrument, like one of those David Hockney collages. It's an apt visual representation of the group's music, which is not organic but rather a mishmash of distinct components. Despite the Liverpool quartet's characteristically murky sound, each instrument makes itself heard. The songs are more focused than they were on previous albums, and except for "Anne," which borrows the melody line from "MacArthur Park," they also reveal their inspirations less readily. Call it originality, if you want, but each cut is built around a simple, hypnotic motif, often carried by a keyboard, with layers of equally simple patterns laid on top.
Utilizing this elemental methodology, Clinic cover a wide range of styles, from the contained, dissonant guitar racket of "Vertical Take Off in Egypt" to the precision garage rock of "W.D.Y.Y.B." to the gentle Merseybeat of "Falstaff." Ade Blackburn's clenched-teeth vocal style is designed to intensify an already charged atmosphere, not convey a message. He makes the ballads spooky and the rockers frenetic.