Clinic - Bubblegum - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Clinic - Bubblegum

by Andy Brown Rating:9 Release Date:2010-10-04

There's a lot of great bands that don't change their sound much; The Wedding Present have been bashing out the same tune essentially since 'Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft', The Fall are famously always 'the-same-but-different' and who could honestly say that Morrissey is always pushing the sonic boundaries? This isn't a criticism however; far from it - these are my favourite bands I'm talking about here. Clinic are a classic example of this 'same-but-different' syndrome: supplying their loyal fan-base with over 10 years of psych-pop and gritted teeth vocals since their EPs in the late 90s and their first full length album, 2000's Internal Wrangler. With this in mind, many may have already made up their mind as to whether new album Bubblegum is going to be worth investigating or not. Personally, I'm firmly in the "can't wait to hear some new Clinic" camp - especially as their last effort (2008's Do It!) was one of their strongest to date.

Bubblegum finds the masked men from Liverpool in a distinctively laid back mood, a feeling of blissful contentment running through many of these tracks. Opening track and lead single 'I'm Aware' sets the mood as it floats through the speakers with it's gently strummed acoustic, cooing backing vocals and technicolour psychedelia. Ade Blackburn's voice has never sounded better as he croons, "Yes, I know I am aware". 'Baby' lifts a groove or two from The Seeds' 'Can't Seem to Make You Mine' and slows it down to a more languid pace, with satisfyingly smooth results. 'Linda' is possibly the most straight ahead they've ever sounded; a gorgeous, gentle acoustic ballad that shows Clinic at their most exposed. The title track brims with an infectious sense of positivity, a dreamy sense of happiness that runs through the entire album.

'Lion Tamer' shows its teeth and picks up the pace but overall there's not much of the tense, claustrophobic Clinic you can hear on previous albums like Winchester Cathedral or the brilliant 2006 release Visitations. 'Evelyn' is a fast paced foot stomper yet even here there's a feeling of joyful release and celebration. Just compare the lush 'Milk and Honey' with the title track of 2002 album Walking with Thee - the tension has been replaced by a renewed sense of wonder. Closing track 'Orangutan' is the closest to the Clinic of old, as Ade sings, "you live your life in fantasies" over a familiar storming rhythm section. If Clinic are a modern Velvet Underground, destined to be appreciated years after splitting up, then Bubblegum is their Loaded - a bright, confident and intelligent pop album of dreamy treats.

Like all Clinic albums, Bubblegum is more of a progression than a complete overhaul - another variation on the theme, as it were. The fact that it's possibly one of their most cohesive and accessible albums to date should not only come as a reassurance to their fanbase but hopefully pull in a few new admirers too. Clinic occupy a space where only Clinic can; a unique and talented bunch of nutcases making some of the best music you could hope to hear. An often stunningly beautiful record Bubblegum, is a strange, exciting and intriguing piece of work - as good as they've always been.

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