Clinic come from Liverpool. Clinic wear surgical masks. Clinic sounds like Clinic. No one else sounds like Clinic. This is their debut album and in the space of 31 minutes they pack more ideas than most bands use in a career and tear music up in the toybox of their minds and put it back together again. Keyboards and melodica are to the fore but the real star is the vocals. Ade Blackurn's delivery is a truly unique weapon of rock n roll. After heavy rotation through 2013 I now believe that this could be the best debut album ever made, beaten only by Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. This album is exceptional.
"Voodoo Wop" sets the ball running with evil percussion and queasy keyboards that calms down into a sangria-by-the-beach swell. Merely into music it sets Clinic's stall. Weird and unsettling and funny all in one go. "The Return Of Evil Bill" punishing, grinding, quisling, garrulous. The first sense we have of Ade Blackburn's sinister nonsense speak ('Self help for the farm'?. 'The billboard wars'?). Pushed along at a pace that isn't natural (apart from when it slows to a nursery rhyme falter). 'Internal Wrangler' sounds vaguely garage rock, like Inspiral Carpets with indigestion, except of course that Clinic don't sound like Inspiral Carpets, or anyone. Parping and stinging, surf meets garage meets the Joe 90 theme. "DJ Shangri La" another mood piece as funeral keys meet squalling seagulls. "The Second Line", plodding bass underpins amazingly nonsensical lyrics with a "tssked" backing harmony and a breathless boy band backing harmony. Despite all this the songs is fantastically catchy that makes you want to sing along! There is a wonderful child like joy about this song. "CQ" is fast and stuttering that sounds like a punk reduction that Wire only dreamt about. "TK" sees another keyboards heavy song. "Earth Angel" is the first sight of slower Clinic with teasing, cajoling vocals ('Martha the snitch'?) backed by minimal instrumentation and lapping ocean sounds. A haunting, creepy ballad about... something. "Distortion" continues the slower, tender theme as slow caressing keys and luscious bass weave around Ade's reptilian croon. I love the lyrics of this song, the mystery of working out the puzzle of what it means. 'I want to know my body / I want this out not in me' what on Earth does this mean? Personally I think it's along the lines of Gang Of Four's 'Anthrax', seeing love as a disease? Or a hymn to self loathing? It is simply one of the most affecting lyrics ever committed and the entire thing is sung with such skill, encompassing fear, fright, love and pleading to be a world of complexity and confusion. "Hippy Death Suite" does what it says on the tin as the pace is ramped up to a blitzkrieg as surf guitar goes nuclear. "2nd Foot Stomp" another catchy pop hit (from the planet ruled by Brian Eno that is) with a breathless melody "39905" sees a dirtier tone backed by bass drum. "Goodnight Georgie" is a gorgeous lullaby.
Dazzlingly inventive. constantly surprising, sporadically childlike, occasionally threatening. Only in listening to it now have I noticed the heavy use of Beach Boys style vocal harmonies. I think this is what lends the album it's childlike joy. There is a sense of exploration here and the thrill of hearing music unlike anything you have ever heard is enervating. Another thing that struck me how minimal is the instruments are on many songs but you only notice if you actually examine the component parts. The vocals carry much of the work, with the songs taking shape around the meaningless words. Half kids show theme tunes and half music from horror movies, half gorgeous, half sinister. Profoundly weird, disturbing, fun, avant garde, catchy, silly, aggressive, accessible, an acquired taste. Clinic are ridiculous. Clinic are genius. Clinic deserve medals. Clinic need help. Clinic should pack arenas. Clinic should be sectioned.