Do It!

Clinic

Domino, 2008

http://www.clinicvoot.org

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/03/2008

After spending a good chunk of this lazy Sunday afternoon slogging through the latest Raconteurs album (and only making it six songs in before giving up), I needed something short and sweet. Turns out, this album, the fifth release from English indie rockers Clinic, isn’t really that sweet, despite the brevity of each track. But what Do It! is instead is a dizzyingly eclectic, almost creepy combination of hazy, layered instrumentation and Abe Blackburn’s trademark marble-mouthed vocals that pay debt to the experimentation and accessibility of their legendary Liverpool counterparts, the Beatles.

This is an easy listen in that no song is longer than three or so minutes, but even that is complicated by the pairing of vintage melodies and arrays of instruments picked up from flea markets with electronics and themes of futurism. This is seen straight from the outshoot with the pairing of opener “Memories” with “Tomorrow.” The former switches elegantly from a churning riff-rocker to silky, organ-based melodies in bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250
Blackburn’s acidic, nearly unintelligible vocals on lines like “Memories are your wealth and warmth here you wander / Memories are your pieces of gold.” Meanwhile, “Tomorrow” pads bluesy acoustic guitar rhythms with a heavy dose of harmonica, all centered around the refrain “Joy of living / Joy in giving / Before tomorrow comes.” It’s an essential dichotomy that the band is keen to explore throughout the album.

For all their eeriness (the band always plays their shows in surgical masks and hospital scrubs), there’s an inescapable feeling of energy on this disc: “Witch Hunt (Made To Measure)” is pure raucousness with Hartley’s fuzzy clangs of guitar and Carl Turney’s metronomic drumming, while “High Coin” is a dose of full-on madness, backing the weird, witty wordplay of lines like “You stitch who you always wanted / Now your thoughts begin to fray” with sharp stabbing guitar and Blackburn’s gritted-teeth vocal delivery. Meanwhile, my favorite “Mary and Eddie” is a hypnotic foray into folk-rock that finally collapses into a stunningly psychedelic wash of foghorn and trippy accents of electronics.

Not that the band can’t do mellow: there’s still a sense of grace to be found amid the moodiness and paranoia. “Emotions,” for one, is a hazed-over, dreamy ode to the bottle (“Now you see well and without more tears / Fill in the gaps as half your mind is gone”), and closer “Coda” is a lovely instrumental jam that pairs a whining guitar line with blips of electronica, all ending in a cacophony of church bells; overall, it’s a nice closer to all of Blackburn’s surreal imagery and head-scratching syntax throughout the rest of the album.

Do It! really is an indiscernible record: let’s just say that it’s an experience to be had, courtesy of a constantly shape-shifting band that can somehow make pre-apocalyptic paranoia sound stunning and oddly catchy.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Domino, and is used for informational purposes only.