It’s a good day when you’re reminded that The Clientele remain an active concern. Their last musical dispatch came in 2020 with “Orpheus Beach”, a one-off Go-Beetweens cover, so it’s a good start to the week when you receive news that they’re returning with a new album – their first since 2017’s Music For The Age Of Miracles – and that it’s a double, no less.
The expansiveness comes with a new stylistic approach. According to the press release:
“We’d always been interested in music other than guitar music, like for donkey’s years,” vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean says. This time out, he—alongside bassist James Hornsey and drummer Mark Keen—incorporated elements of post-bop jazz, contemporary classical and electronic music. According to MacLean, “None of those things had been able to find their way into our sound other than in the most passing way, in the faintest imprint.”
This stretching out—what MacLean calls “a leap forwards and to the side”—can be heard clearly in “Blue Over Blue,” with its percussive samples and its moments where the arrangement opens up suddenly into something cinematic in scope, with horns and strings. “What happened with this record was that we bought a computer,” MacLean explains. Under the old Clientele way of recording, a tricky song like “Blue Over Blue” might’ve eaten up all their studio time, as they worked out the time signature and the instrumentation. For I Am Not There Anymore, though, the trio would lay down a few tracks and then take them home to play around, trying out different arrangements before returning to the studio to finish recording all the little instrumental enhancements.The Clientele announce new album ‘I Am Not There Anymore’ and take up arms in “Blue Over Blue” video @ Merge Records
Maybe the first single is meant as a bridge for those accustomed to their trademark sound and the more experimental stuff, but some different production touches, it’s still unmistakeably Clientele – elegant fingerpicked electric guitar, MacLean’s soft blanket vocals, and an irresistible calm. As MacLean explains about the song:
‘Blue Over Blue’ is about getting lost in the woods on Hampstead Heath on an autumn day with my two-year-old son on my shoulders—he loved it and wanted to play hide and seek. I knew he was a ticking time bomb as I had no food with me and was trying to find my way back to a path.Alasdair Maclean, The Clientele
The Clientele announce new album ‘I Am Not There Anymore’ and take up arms in “Blue Over Blue” video @ Merge Records
And with the album announcement comes the band’s first US tour dates in seven years, but seeing as how those are only in America and I am not available to travel to any of them, I’ll just pretend they’re not happening. La la la.