Clinic - Do It! Album Review
You make the assumption that four grown men who've persisted throughout their career with appearing in surgeon's masks aren't taking themselves too seriously. Given also that the only people outside your local hospital who've mirrored this trend were a bunch of seventies football hooligans from Millwall who called themselves The Treatment (oh, and the guy who came in fancy dress to our Halloween party last year, drunk too much sangria and threw up in the Rhododendrons), it's also reasonable to assume that the record buying public's lack of interest isn't anything that's going to turn around anytime soon.
Assumptions of course make an arse of you and me, but first things first. Formed in the rubble of brit pop during 1997, Clinic are from Liverpool, a city that's produced a string of astute bands which mostly lack the chippy provinciality of those from bumptious neighbour Manchester. And it also has to be said that despite the commercial apathy, the quartet have rock friends in high places. They've toured with Radiohead, secured a Grammy nomination for their second album Walking With Thee and have been leant major kudos by big name fellow mavericks Scott Walker and Jarvis Cocker.
Their fifth album, Do It! is steeped in the hyper extended r n' b of sixties garage rock, occasionally played at an amphetamine driven tempo which frothy coffee drinkers approaching their dotage may subconsciously identify with. Opener Memories sets the tone, with singer Ade Blackburn's reedy vocals piping hypnotisingly against a chugging guitar backdrop that's part psychedelia, part Ouija board. Given that it's influences are so catalogued, it would be easy for Blackburn & co. to trade on the fact that their reimaginings are relevant simply because of their uniqueness in today's environment, but their lack of compromise mostly wins the day, with Tomorrow, The Witch and Shopping Bag all remaining eruditely in character enough to conjure up retro menace and lava lamp resonance aplenty.
True, this intransigent energy does begin to dissipate towards the end of the journey with finale Coda lapsing into pseudo Wurlitzer pastiche, but if Alison Goldfrapp can reinvent herself as the elfish daughter of Kate Bush and Portishead can produce an album full of krautrock dirgery, then Clinic can be forgiven for this minor lapse. Now that the Beta Band are little more than a fading memory, the masked scousers are our last link to the sixties that doesn't need to go to the toilet four times a night.