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God Save The Clientele

The Clientele
God Save The Clientele
Released: 08-05-2007

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Tracklist:
  1. Here Comes the Phantom
  2. I Hope I Know You
  3. Isn't Life Strange?
  4. The Dance of the Hours
  5. From Brighton Beach to Santa Monica
  6. Winter on Victoria Street
  7. The Queen of Seville
  8. These Days Nothing but Sunshine
  9. Somebody Changed
  10. No Dreams Last Night
  11. Carnival on 7th Street
  12. Bookshop Casanova
  13. The Garden at Night
  14. Dreams of Leaving

The Clientele's third full-length LP finds the band riding the wave of beauty and inspiration that made Strange Geometry one of the most impressive records of 2005. As is their style, the group has made no radical changes to their sound or approach; Alasdair MacLean still sings in a heartbreakingly honest and sweet voice, the band is as restrained and thoughtful as ever, the strings that dot the songs like floating tufts of cotton candy are again arranged by Louis Philippe, and the songs are predictably haunting and heartwarming. Even the changes the group made haven't really changed anything.

God Save the Clientele was recorded in Nashville with Lambchop's Mark Nevers at the helm, and with help from Autumn Defense member Pat Sansone, one might expect a more Americanized sound, but with the exception of a pedal steel here and there, the band still magically conjures up autumn walks through rainy London back streets or, even better, languid late summer days spent drifting through the English countryside. Nevers does get a slightly cleaner sound, cutting the reverb down noticeably, but without any ill effects. The addition of Mel Draisey on keyboards, violin, and backing vocals hasn't changed much for the group either, as she's only on about half the tracks and her contributions are pleasingly subtle. Apart from the talk of changes or lack thereof, what you get with God Save the Clientele is a stunning batch of songs that will break your heart, pump it back full of life, and send you off to dreamland with a warm feeling filling your soul. From bouncy summery tunes like "Here Comes the Phantom," which opens the album with a burst of joy, to sleepy ballads (the George Harrison-esque "Isn't Life Strange") and trademark midtempo charmers like "From Brighton Beach to Santa Monica," the band has never been as consistently wonderful as on this album. They also carry over the strong sense of dynamics from Strange Geometry and make sure to balance moods and tempos throughout the album; for every languid ballad like "The Queen of Seville" or the achingly beautiful "No Dreams Last Night," there's an uptempo track like "The Garden at Night" (a wild rocker that sounds like the soundtrack to a scene in a '60s film where the straight-laced couple wanders into a hip nightclub by mistake and is accosted by swirling music and a trippy light show) or the more sedate but still rocking "Bookshop Casanova" to match.

Every song on the album is near perfect and would sound just right on a mix CD designed to win a heart, cheer up a friend, or simply make you glad to be alive. God Save the Clientele is another stroke of magic from a band that has few peers in delivering music that can make or break your heart with a vocal inflection, swath of strings, or gentle arpeggio, music that can devastate you in one breath and lift you to the heavens with the next. The Clientele are that good and this album ranks with their finest moments.

Video for "Bookshop Casanova" (from God Save The Clientele)

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