When Liverpudlian band Clinic arrived fully formed on their 2000 debut, the classic Internal Wrangler, they aimed to critique the status of pop music. The band’s sound, a mix of everything great from underground rock since 1965 (Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Can, Modern Lovers, and on and on) was highly considered -- but not as much as was their look. The band members wear doctor’s masks in order to hide their identities, providing the antithesis to bands who take their looks seriously (even though dressing like back-alley doctors is arguably more rehearsed than wearing designer duds).
Now, five albums into their career (plus a rarities comp), Clinic are in danger of becoming exactly what they aimed to lampoon. Do It!, like Winchester Cathedral and Visitations before it, gorges itself on the band's past catalog, and plays more like a rehashing of their previous work than a new exploration of their sound.
That’s not to say Do It! is a bad album in its own right; it’s just that everything on it you’ve heard before (and better) on the band's past albums. Singer Ade Blackburn hisses out strings of stream-of-consciousness lyrics on “Memories,” “Emotions,” and “High Coin.” The band plays like the best spaghetti western backing band, sounding like the soul of the American West, on “Corpus Christi,” “The Witch (Made to Measure),” “Tomorrow,” and “Winged Wheel.”
Do It! will stand in Clinic’s catalog as little more than a holding pattern. The band members have done everything they wanted to do sonically and are content to merely play to type. For better or worse, Clinic has become as solid and dependable as the Great Sphinx pictured on the album cover.
Clinic has survived the gimmick of being known as “that band that performs in surgical scrubs, complete with masks” to become a mainstay in the Brit rock scene. The Arcade Fire loves Clinic, covering the band’s songs and taking Clinic out on the road. And now, with Do It!, the band is up to its fifth full album. So Clinic might not ever reach the heights of another little four-piece from Liverpool you might have heard of, but the band doesn’t seem to be fading away either. Expect more of Clinic’s signature brand of spooky, organ-soaked garage-psych behind lead singer Ade Blackburn’s tortured yelps on Do It!
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