Before I start, I just want to say that this C.D.'s cover art is crap.
Before I start, I just want to say that this C.D.'s cover art is crap. It reminds me of what a Twisted Sister, or Scorpions, or Anita Dobson, or for that matter, an Elaine Page LP would look like; a crappy playing card design with weird motifs hinting at something "sinister"; (oh god, why bother describing it)... I like the songs, (there, I've told you before I've reviewed it), I'm just not happy, that's all. Also I've still not totally made up my mind if the singer is male or female. I want it to be a woman, as this thought conjures up images of a black clad sadistic Crimean war widow hell-bent on revenge; but I think it's a frustrated young man singing into a shoebox.
Anyway, Country Mile kicks off like Kraftwerk's Radio Activity soon settling into a mid tempo guitar/drums stomp with a New Order Movement era keyboard sound. All fine & dandy so far kids, though not something to make you sit up.
Track two, Circle of Fiths begins with the piano intro to We Love You by the Stones and develops into a Mo Tucker piano led thump-off which clatters along jerkily. At this point I'm thinking I'm in for a collection of Central European urban grooves, but this mid tempo car ride is brought to a halt with Anne, a seemingly "disturbing" story about, (well; rejection, or murder, or some such; in all probability weird sex). There is a definitely sticky air to this song (which incidentally can't resist a bit of a Mo Tucker thump by the end). An oboe (or clarinet?) wails the introduction to The Magician, and continues wailing into a very East Berlin swing bands' take on what production must sound like in a cannery factory; (i.e. insistent). If there's one thing about this lp so far, it's that word insistent. Vertical Take Off in Egypt becomes a drunken wasp trying to fly away from the scene of a bucolic crime. Harsh atonal guitar licks slowly and angrily circle, trying for take off. By contrast we then arrive at Home, a very weird European nursery rhyme; (imagine Nico and Rosa Luxemburg singing a drugged up harpy melody over your cot). At this point it begins to dawn on you that Clinic really "dig" the concept of "disturbed" and "menacing". No commissions to do the soundtrack of "Jennings Goes to School" then.
WDYYB wakes yer up with an angular guitar pogo, almost jumping into Reynard the Fox territory with a great dumb show chorus. The Majestic 2 is another simple melody with (you guessed it) insistent guitars and great droning keyboards. The drums have a druggy Hitchcock-like Acid Bird quality to them. The singer sounds as if he is gargling salt water on this track, which is a slight shame. Falstaff (hey, Clinic, you'll end up sounding like Caravan if you're not careful with titles like that), swings into the room with that lovely East Berlin trad- jazz band turning up again. A love song of sorts ensues over a great, sparse understatedly cool soundscape. An oboe (or is it clarinet?) kicks off August and yet again, dramatically muffled vocals tell of some wretched act. (This chappy on vox is really going to have to face the mike one day you know). I mean, like all the other songs, its menacing clever, thoughtfully arranged, but can the singer come out of the cupboard? Thank You plants us firmly back into New Order's Movement sound, for a jerky little urban kick about that stops and starts in a cute way. I like Clinic when they use that growly guitar. Fingers finishes the LP off with a piano led groove, offset by oboe and guitar. Yep, you guessed it, a simple melody, with the menacing air of sex in a Trabant hanging over it. 'Twas ever thus, it seems.