i find it somewhat difficult to be remain objective when discussing the clientele--i simply adore this band. when people ask me 'what do they sound like' they're one of two bands for which i simply can't find a reference point (the arcade fire being the other). the clientele is band that sounds like nothing you've heard before, yet somehow familiar at the same time.
'strange geometry' bears more resemblence to 'suburban light' than to its predecessor, 'the violet hour.' even though 'suburban light' was a collection of singles, tracks from e.p.'s, etc, it was thoroughly cohesive album. each track seemed cut from the same cloth. 'the violet hour,' (the first proper l.p.) while evoking a similar atmospheric aesthetic, was less immediate, less engaging the 'suburban light.' 'strange geometry's' lead track and first single, 'since k got over me' is vintage clientele--slightly reverbed/delayed guitars, airy vocals, walking basslines. it's a song that would've fit nicely on 'suburban light.' (and better than any track on 'the violet hour'). this similarity, i think, is part of the clientele's appeal: you know exactly what you're getting, but despite that knowledge, you're never disappointed because it's such a unique and beautiful sound. and it seems so apropros to release this album in october because the clientele are very much an autumnal band.
the majority of the album's track are, in fact, steeped in autumnal atmosphere. as i mentioned on my review of 'suburban light,' the clientele sound sucked straight out of 1967 london. it's all about golden hues, gray skies, turning leaves, sunrises and sunsets, silhouettes, flowers, gardens, ivy, butterflies, and faded photographs. yet they pull it off. in lesser hands, the clientele might sound contrived and pretentious. thankfully alasdair maclean's vocal delivery is beguiling and compelling. he's a fine, fine vocalist, unique in every way. and as musicians the band are top notch. don't listen to the clientele casually, for there's some pretty complex arrangements within the songs--a testament to their song writing abilities. it's not easy to write complex songs that sound so darned pleasing to the ear. and it's particularly nice to hear louis phillipe's restrained string arrangements on the album. it gives the album an added depth and complexity without burdening the songs.
it's a shame the clientele don't have a wider audience. during the first half of the decade they've released some of the most beautiful, contemplative, emotive and original music i've ever heard. i simply can't get enough of them. as i said, i can't really be totally objective, but this already ranks as one of my top three albums of 2005. buy it. it will rank high on your list, too.