Release Date: Jan 23, 2007
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
At their best, Clinic's songs are puzzles that, despite being made of simple pieces, are nigh-on impossible to figure out. The band goes deeper into their mysterious, noisy blankness on Visitations, which they've described as a "party album." Though it actually seems better suited for a bad trip or a séance, there's no doubt that this is some of Clinic's most consistently exciting work since Internal Wrangler (the band reunited with Gareth Jones, who mixed Wrangler, for this album). And while there aren't any drastic changes here, by the time the surging opening track, "Family," literally ends with a bang, it's clear that the men of Clinic are back to their gleefully cryptic selves.
Most albums become familiar with repeated listens; this just grows more strange. Partly it's the inscrutability of singer Ade Blackburn's vocals: he sounds like John Lydon trapped in a dentist's chair, snarling through a mouth stuffed with cotton wool. Partly it's the atmosphere the Liverpool quartet conjure up: imagine you're stumbling through a creaking, derelict, rat-infested house, nothing but a guttering candle to light your way, and you'll get the idea.
It's a testament to how unusual Clinic sounds that they sometimes get described as a surf or garage band. It's not easy to describe what they do. Stripped down for sure, fuzz guitar and organ are fundamental to many of their numbers. But Clinic doesn't generate heat. Even when they play fast, the ….
There are some bands that can't be left to their own devices. Clinic's fourth album, Visitations, which the group self-recorded in Liverpool, is case and point. It sounds like the fourpiece, in an attempt to rehash the acid-trip aesthetics of 2001 debut Internal Wrangler, got blazed and expected the music to write itself. Overmedicated with pedals and effects – all filler, no killer – "Family" and "Gideon" follow kick-drum grooves, similar to the Black Angels, but fail to develop.