The Clientele's gentle pop songs are imbued with the feeling and style of day fading into night, along with the beauty and loss which that experience suggests. All of their releases to date--7"s, EPs, and an album collecting many of their singles--have been gorgeous yet not just so. Their music is consistent enough that there does indeed seem to be a Clientele sound: relaxed, pretty pop songs with hushed vocals and an atmospheric haze. Their songs are about how you feel when you're in a certain place at a certain time, yet the songs themselves also feel occupied, by ghosts or memories. They feel simple yet filled with secrets. Their latest release The Violet Hour, basically their first proper album, takes all of these qualities and amplifies them in wonderful ways. In many ways, it sounds like every other Clientele release, yet it's also a considerable step forward. For while the basic style is consistent with the past (even though it feels in many ways like a perfection of it), the guitar playing is even more moody and seductive, in a way that better plays up the dream-like quality of the band's music, and there's hints of both more abstract composition and more out-there rock n' roll than the group has yet delivered on record. The Clientele has always tried to both soothe and mystify listeners, to make you feel like you've been transported somewhere, and then make you feel out-of-time. Here they do that spendidly from start to finish, while also delivering songs that are loaded with enough pure feeling to send chills up and down your spine. Perhaps the best example (among 13 great examples) is the album's final track, "Policeman Getting Lost." A series of seasonal evocations wind their way through a gorgeous love song and then, after just around 2 minutes, singer Alsdair MacLean gets to the surprising final line, at once dumbfounding and moving: "Inside the fog I saw a policeman getting lost." It's hard to put in words, but the feeling of grace, sadness and confusion in MacLean's voice as he delivers those strange words is the essence of The Clientele.