'Internal Wrangler' a definite must-have
Long before weird and money-making hybrids of indie-pop identified, won and lost the genre any guts and credibility, there were bands who were reasonably successful, thank you very much, making music where ideas either kind of worked or kind or failed, but were tried out nonetheless. So, it's always good for the soul when you hear a band who don't have both eyes on the bank balance. When you hear someone 'go at it' with sparks, ingenuity or attitude. Or, very occasionally, all three. As Clinic do. Not everyone's going to like them. If watching means being able to do huge dances and really get plastically hammed-up, forget it. If listening to music is only worth it if you're looking for heroics, go elsewhere. Clinic stick with genre-surfing, keyboard sounds tested by lunatics, echoey production values and odd song titles. All of which means that they'll probably never hit it 'big' and will probably be a butt of the 'indie' tag for ever. They've been compared to Suicide; though they're not quite as one dimensional; and The Fall, but then who hasn't? The title track of the recent 'Internal Wrangler' album has more than a hint of The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. They used to dress up in Sergeant Pepper suits and medical masks. More recently, they just bash it out, as anonymously and as brilliantly as any act around. Their recorded work sticks to the themes mentioned above and gives them a distinctive style. One album and four or five singles in, and there's plenty there for 'fans' to start sinking their choppers into. Clinic seen to have hunches that pay off. Voodoo Wop, the first track on the recently released Internal Wrangler album is a film soundtrack workout, with bongos and a tripping, slightly jazzy bass line. They do off-kilter punk noise, most noticeably on C.Q., and aficionados of mad organs on an electro-relentless beat should go crazy for 2/4. All Clinic songs have got that elusive 'pop' with bite quality which dozens of their counterparts aim at, but usually don't quite get. The Second Line, for example, starts like a home-made sixties guitar hook which almost descends into pub rock, but brilliantly chugs over any mediocrity with a few nifty changes of pace, breaks and a finale brilliantly executed on some kind of zapped out mouth organ. 2nd Foot Stomp is a loopy driven doo-wop style assault, laced and aced with mucky keyboards and crazy 'doo-doo-doo' backing vocals. There's enough invention and energy on Internal Wrangler to sustain a whole career (there are slow songs, sea noises, weird Beethoven dance tracks and church organs to name a few). A definite must-have. And, inexplicably, only half an hour long. If you're up for seeing a band who have no twisty glam pretensions or annoying quirks and gimmicks, try and see them. Immediately. If not, there's always the weekly production line bands who still want to sound like The Smiths or The Stone Roses.
From a seedy underworld of gothic malevolence and bad voodoo comes this, Clinic's long-awaited debut album. On Internal Wrangler
, these four serious young conceptual post-punkers pull on their emergency-room overalls and go about dissecting the dark underbelly of rock history with a scalpel, sewing it back together in unique malformations. There's knowing references to the smack-addled chug of Velvet Underground
's "White Light / White Heat", the acerbic eclecticism of the Beatles' White Album
and even a dark, serious nod to Johnny Cash
's "Ring Of Fire" on the creaking workout of "TK". But really, Internal Wrangler
sounds like nothing else past or present--a 30-minute death-rattle of caustic, shrieking garage-punk, interspersed with murky funeral interludes and malevolent post-folk nursery rhymes--even a song called "Hippy Death Suite". Surely, this is a band to kill for. --Louis Pattison