The Clientele - Minotaur

It’s hard to find too much to complain about when MacLean is crooning over the bands blissful pop melodies.

Despite the rather menacing title, the Clientele are back with another batch of breezy songs that continues along the smooth, autumnal path of their brilliant full-length ‘Bonfires On The Heath’. Although the six new songs (along with a cover and a spoken word piece) featured on ‘Minotaur’ lack the depth and intrigue that made their recent LP so memorable, it’s quite hard to find too much to complain about when Alasdair MacLean is crooning over the bands blissful pop melodies. The Clientele continue their generous tradition of releasing smaller, more exploratory works in between proper albums, and while there are clearly hushed gems to be found here, the songs just have an insubstantial air about them that substantiates the bands decision to relegate them to this mini-album.

The title track alludes to the labyrinthine task of growing older, and what happens when we realize that some of the things we were passionate about aren’t available to us anymore. It features a melancholy violin over a jaunty acoustic guitar melody that carries the wistful song well. The band turns up the volume a bit on ‘Jerry,’ but the sonic clamor sounds a bit forced and finds the band a bit out of their natural element towards the end of the track. Their cover of ‘As The World Rises And Falls’ by the suddenly hot again the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band (who the Dead Weather have also been covering as of late) fares much better, with the unhurried textures of the London band coaxing out the pensive tension of the track. ‘Paul Verlaine’ has a ‘Funny Little Frog’ sound to it, and is a bit waggish like a B&S song simply due to MacLean rhyming ‘porcelain’ with ‘Verlaine’. It’s an upbeat, bouncy song, but again it comes off as a bit minor, especially when compared to the weightier material found on their last record.

‘Strange Town’ and ‘No.33’ both sound like works in progress, with each song clocking in under two minutes, and the instrumental ‘No. 33’ featuring just a spare, haunting piano line. ‘The Green Man’ is a stirring spoken-word piece (again comparable to Belle & Sebastian) with just MacLean recounting a frightful encounter he overheard at a pub one night over moody sound effects. It’s an odd number, especially when MacLean has to start over a bit while he clears his throat, but that imperfection only adds to the eerie narrative. It’s hard to think that a work like this would’ve ever found its way into a proper Clientele album, but it seems to fit within the looser confines of this release. ‘Minotaur’ closes with the sullen lilt of ‘Nothing Here Is What It Seems,’ a song more in line with the elegance of Bonfires, but it still sounds a bit unfinished. And while that fragmentary element colours this entire release, Minotaur at least shows fans of the Clientele that the band is in a fruitful, productive period, and it hopefully won’t be too long until we get a proper follow-up to their stellar last record.

Tags: The Clientele, Reviews, Album Reviews

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