The Clientele's 2009 album Bonfires on the Heath was one of the best, most hauntingly beautiful records of the band’s impressive career -- so strong that it spawned an equally wonderful EP made up of songs recorded at the Bonfires sessions that were deemed suitable for the album itself. Hard to believe that they couldn’t find room for the title track, "Minotaur," as its fragile melody and sweetly swaying dynamics would have fit in perfectly. The same with the bouncing and sweet "Paul Verlaine"; it would have been one of the more memorable tracks there.
All of the Clientele's records have been of a piece since at least 2003's The Violet Hour, when the Brit band began to move away from the vocal-smearing reverb and budget-conscious production values of their early singles in search of something brighter, more classically pop. On 2005's Strange Geometry, they shifted focus for real, looking to the rich analog sound of the 1960s rather than the scrappy 1980s indie pop that reared them (which was of course already pretty 60s-indebted). The Clientele are too idiosyncratic to be a straight retro act-- one listen to Alasdair MacLean's sighing delivery and you know he's not out to imitate Lennon, McCartney, anyone-- but that same strong stamp of personality means it's hard to say anything new about the band.
It seemed for a while that last year’s Bonfires on the Heath would be the final time anyone heard from the Clientele, an English band with a penchant for lush, lazy psychedelic pop that recalls such ‘60s acts as the Zombies and the Association. In a May 2009 interview with Pitchfork, lead singer Alasdair MacLean said this of Bonfires on the Heath: “I think it’d close the chapter quite well. If you don’t have any more ideas you should just go away, I guess.” In the end, the Clientele obviously had more ideas that they wanted to commit to tape, as they have, just less than a year later, issued a new eight-song, nearly 27-minute-long mini-album called Minotaur.
A deserved commercial breakthrough continues to elude this wonderful London band. Chris White 2010 Every time The Clientele announce a new album, their small but fiercely loyal fan base holds its breath in anticipation. Could this be the release that finally brings a truly wonderful band the wider acclaim they so richly deserve? Few artists of recent times share this London four-piece’s ability to evoke a sense of mood and place.