Photo by Andy Wilsher
The Clientele first ambled into my life in 2014 with the reissue of their 2000 debut, Suburban Light. That’s exactly how the Clientele moves. This is a band that ambles, never in a hurry to get anywhere. They’re all about atmosphere, especially on Suburban Light, a collection of lo-fi folk-pop that seems to perpetually live in some rainy, after-midnight dream state.
Since that debut, the Clientele has upped its production game across seven albums, using string sections but without sacrificing its intimate aesthetic. Singer and guitarist Alasdair MacLean is a direct disciple of ’60s songwriting, cycling through Lennon-esque lyrics and Zombies-inspired chord changes. Yet the Clientele doesn’t feel like some faux-psychedelic throwback. They’re a band out-of-time that sounds like its playing to an audience of one.
After seven years, the Clientele returns with Music For The Age Of Miracles. “Lunar Days” wanders the same London streets, set against a backdrop of cello, acoustic guitar, and a drum kit quietly ticking off the time. MacLean is “heading nowhere, with no place to really go,” but the scene he sets isn’t dull. He understands how strange and truly psychedelic an empty suburban landscape can be. There’s darkness at the edges; “this is the year the monster will come,” he hurriedly whispers. It’s old-sounding music for futuristic dreaming.
“Lunar Days” appears on Music For The Age Of Miracles, out September 22 via Merge.
–Art Levy // host, Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., producer, My KUTX