As proof the the world isn't a fair and just place in microcosm but only macrocosm, for every undeserving, over-hyped, vapid celebrity entity that occupies the public consciousness at every turn, there surely must be a counter-balancing yang. For every Britney, Tiffany, Little Jimmy Osmond and Davy Jones, there is a Alasdair MacLean, Graham Day, Nick Drake... you get the picture.
And this album only serves to rubber-stamp that theory towards becoming unassailable fact. The smart irony is, it cheekily and almost knowingly lifts a Monkees-esque upbeat feel in it's opening track, only to unfold into a piece of music of the stature that the prefab four never actually achieved (or in fact, their army of ghostwriters and performers to whom it should actually be credited).
The feel of the album has considerably shifted gears from 'Strange Geometry', but thankfully the lush string arrangements are still in place, albiet to much more soothing and laid back effect. This is the morning after the trip that produced tracks like 'Since K Got Over Me' and 'Impossible', with tracks like 'No Dreams Last Night' and 'Brighton Beach to Santa Monica', incorporating steel guitar that effortlessly weaves between the trademark reverb Telecaster and the dreamy vocal.
Still, the album has surprises up it's sleeve and shifts gear on the listener unto jolting aplomb - 'The Gardner At Night' takes the group into a new brand of dark, indie-stomp guitar intrigue, whilst the album's most commercial offering 'Bookshop Casanova' is a potent shoe shuffler. However, for those on comedown from their recent hypnotic offering, 'Isn't Life Strange' finds the band in more familiar territory.
In fact, overall the album is a friendly offering to invite old fans to develop their tastes and expectations rather than a brash and unrepentant change of gears; but you sense that this is a reflection of that fact that MacLean couldn't possibly sound any other way, and this sincerity is the key to the album's appeal, and most probably why followers of The Clientele are unswerving in their loyalty.
A quick flick through early reviews of the album pull out the Monkees comparison, but as far as I can see, don't understand the obvious point. Even though a diminutive squeaky child actor of limited musical ability might have occupied the headlines that The Clientele surely deserve more, artistry isn't measured in column inches. And they're taking back their yang.