The time has finally come for all those cheap bastards (like myself) to go ahead and rejoice, because Domino Records is now going to be releasing albums domestically as well. In the past, one could read all the positive reviews of things they wanted, but honestly it was still a bit hard for most people to plunk down 25 dollars and buy an album. That's all changed now, and although it's not going to make a big difference to most people, I'm personally hyped. The first release to get the domestic treatment is last years Internal Wrangler by Clinic, and it's a heck of a way to start things. It's goofy and fun, and oen of those releases that gets stuck in your head (and CD player) for days.
Although it's just over 30 minutes long, the group packs quite a bit of punch into the short timeframe. After listening to the album many, many times over the course of one weekend, I was singing along with the group although I had not a goddamn clue what lead singer Ade Blackburn was saying. Of course, that's not really the point of Clinic. They're a fairly typical rock band setup with the bass, guitars, vocals and drums (or drum machines) and the occassional organs, but they somehow capture a reckless energy with their garage-band asthetic that I haven't heard in a long time. I was trying to explain the sound of the group to a guy I work with (who ended up highly enjoying the release as well), and I found myself saying that they were "skronky rock." I have no clue what that means, but it somehow seems to fit.
The album starts out with the short instrumental entitled "Voodoo Wop" and after starting out like it's going to completely blast the doors off things (with a bongo rhythm and some goofy vocal samples), it eventually just drops off into a funky little loungey cut for the last 40 seconds. Of course, on the very next track, the group does kick out the stops, and "The Return Of Evil Bill" is one of the best tracks on the entire disc. Driven with a tinny, organ sound (one that fuels several tracks on the album), the track moves along with some chugging bass and guitars and those infectious vocals by Blackburn. From there, the album drops the equally excellent album-titled track, a short instrumental, as well as the drum-machine ditty of "The Second Line" (which will have you singing nonsensically along with it).
At two points on the album, the group really turns up the pace, and this results in some sloppy art-punk fun. "C.Q." is a minute-long burst of chunky, distorted guitars, drums, and vocals while "2/4" is pumped full of that delicious, tinny organ sound and a drum kick so fast it could fuel a dancefloor. Of course, the group can pull off the quieter tracks as well, and one of the nice things about the album is that it flows so well. "Distortions" is a nice little ditty that features lyrics that seem to get more and more strange and dark as it progresses. The closing track of "Goodnight Georgie" is just as excellent, sounding somewhat like a Velvet Underground if you squint your ears enough.
With a 14-track (although there's no 13th track; chalk it up to superstition?) disc that runs so quickly, you'd might as well put this thing on repeat and let it go a couple times. It's one of those releases that reminds you that with all the experimenting and genre-blurring, there is still something simple and nice about an album that takes fairly base elements of rock and roll and creates a disc that's highly catchy.