A classic, a stone classic. And very surprising. Clinic always do psychedelic garage rock pretty brilliantly, and I love everything they’ve done, but of late I could pretty much write a Clinic review by regurgitating all my favourite phrases about the Litter or pre-Kraut/beat bands from 65-66. Now I have to work that little bit harder.
For those who don’t really know Clinic, I would say that this release is a great, but completely unrepresentative place to start discovering their muse.(Just like Yo La Tengo’s equally curveball Summer Sun). The music on Bubblegum is romantic, personal and very, very mellow. It does draw on the Pebbles/Rubble anthologies pretty extensively as well as having a feel of bands like Love at times. But the psychosis that often informed their sound is replaced by a gentle melancholy. The title track is a great lost 60’s “groovy” film theme: the sort of noise that could have graced And the Goose Saw the Gander, or Girl on a Motorcycle. Get my drift? Baby takes We Sell Soul and makes it a floaty lounge number whereas Linda, Freemason's Waltz and Another Way of Giving are classic strum-along soliloquies, beloved of kerb-side visionaries like Michael Head.
When we do get an increase in tempo, such as Lion Tamer, the sound is much more informed by the heady, gaudy psychedelia of the Pretty Things or the introspection of Skip Spence and Fried–era Julian Cope (the beautiful and groovy Milk and Honey and Forever being cases in point). Evelyn could be off the Skellington Chronicles, what with its juddering shimmering “home-made” vibe. And we nearly start wandering over to the Elysian fields towards Nick Drake's realm with Un Astronauta en Cielo. Beautiful. More stylistic surprises are in store… The photographer Jason Evans narrates the “naughty” Radiostory in a very deadpan way (a little bit Robyn Hitchcock, a little bit John Braine).
I love this record, it's fecking brilliant.