A brighter shade of pale from the kings of pop twilight
Like Galaxie 500 and Spain before them, The Clientele specialize in crepuscular rock: music that strolls empty, melancholic streets and lingers in lonely bedsits. Its first two discs—a singles collection and a languid long-player—proved solid efforts, but the production’s lo-fi murk lent the music a feeling of sameness. While the London-based trio’s latest disc isn’t a bold departure, it boasts a sunnier, more direct sound, thanks to Brian O’Shaughnessy’s deft production. As a result, Alisdair MacLean’s vocals emerge more defined, and the band sounds fresher. The song quality has also improved, with even some modest uptempo numbers popping up, like “My Own Face Inside the Trees” and the wan, dry cheer of “E.M.P.T.Y.” It’s an instant late-night classic that’s a pleasure to stay awake for.