The Clientele is a talented band. Its first proper full-length, 2003’s The Violet Hour, was a resplendent collage of bittersweet and foggy retro-pop. And if you’ve caught the Clientele on stage (particularly opening for Spoon this summer), you’ve seen an amazing live set. Talented or not, though, the band’s second album, Strange Geometry, is a textbook case of the sophomore slump.
The album starts off with some delightful numbers. The Byrds-esque opener “Since K Got Over Me” will lift the listener eight miles high; “My Own Face Inside the Trees” floats decorously, thanks in part to the sugary licks oozing from the Hammond organ; and Alasdair MacLean’s gentle crooning on “Spirit” is as sweet as slowly dripping honey. “(I Can’t Seem) to Make You Mine” starts off well, mixing a cool indie-rock serenade with the treble similar to a Perry Como record that used to whirl on your grandparents hi-fi. But that grows quaint midway through because of a lack of creativity in the melodies – something the Clientele has been accused of before. As the album progresses into tracks such as “E.M.P.T.Y.,” “When I Came Home From the Party” and “Geometry of Lawns,” the rhythms come off as wooden and the vocal precision becomes dry.
I was lucky enough to see the Clientele open for Spoon this summer, and I know how strong the band is live. But some acts are better on stage than in the studio. In an album that lacks the band’s trademark ebb and flow, Strange Geometry is just plain inferior to the Clientele’s previous work.
Streams for “E.M.P.T.Y.”, “Since K Got Over Me” Where the Universes Are”, (I Want You) More Than Ever, “Violet Hour”, “Reflections After Jane”, “Joseph Cornell”, “House on Fire”, “Five Day Morning” , “An Hour Before the Light”
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