Dusted Reviews

Clinic - Walking With Thee

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Clinic

Album: Walking With Thee

Label: Domino

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

What is it about rock and roll? Why does it keep our attention after all these years? Threatened with obsolescence by more fashionable musical forms, made almost unbearably bland by the likes of Matchbox 20--still, rock manages not only to survive, but to reinvent itself, to thrill and surprise us as if it were the first time we’d heard a three-minute song made by skinny white guys with guitars and drums. Rock is the proverbial cockroach, surviving despite all efforts to wipe it out.

How exactly do bands make it work? The Strokes have done it by making an album full of songs that are unabashed throwbacks, music that simply reminds us why we liked rock in the first place. Radiohead has made itself known of late for pushing the boundaries of what “rock” is, with famously mixed results. Such is the dilemma for a band: stick to basic elements, or strive to invent new forms? Clinic, hailing from Liverpool, England, have always had it both ways; their music is a fusion of these two schools of music-making. Internal Wrangler, Clinic’s debut from last year, worked so well because it managed to use recognizable influences in ways that sounded entirely fresh. Songs could start out with a dirty, drum-machine dance track and turn into a punk rant; it was impossible to tell where they would go. This unpredictability is what made Internal Wrangler both exciting and confounding, and it’s a tension that Clinic continues to employ on their follow-up, Walking With Thee.

In the opening track, a gentle synth loop plays while a lonely harmonica keens and the bass pulses underneath. Vocalist Ade Blackburn sings “I believe in harmony/ I believe in Christmas Eve”, but he doesn’t seem to mean it. The song’s gentle vocals and steady rhythm manage to create an unease that never resolves itself, a subtle sense of menace that winds its way through the album. Walking With Thee largely moves back and forth between noisy, strange punk and songs that glide along with an almost delicate beauty. One of the best tracks is “Walking With Thee," driven by thick drums and a heavily distorted organ. The refrain is simply Blackburn shouting “NO!” as the band shudders and smashes to a halt. It’s not clear what he’s denying, but it doesn’t matter. Blackburn specializes in a particular kind of lyrical obscurity that doesn’t reveal very much, but allows certain words and phrases to worm their way into the listener’s head. I’m not sure why he keeps barking “carpetbagger!” in “Pet Eunuch”, but it’s the way he says it that counts, as the band clatters around him and his singing dissolves into a smeared punk stream-of-consciousness rambling.

Walking With Thee is a more focused, less eclectic effort than Internal Wrangler, and for my money, it’s a better album. Clinic seem to be growing more confident with their sound, and the new directions hinted at are exciting, including the spacey, lovely drone of the album’s closer, “For the Wars." Clinic are able to surprise us because they are confident enough to take particular sounds and genres and splice them together or take them apart in any way they see fit. The result is music that is strange, loud, beautiful, completely unlike anyone else, and yet classically rock and roll. Let’s hope the third album follows as quickly asWalking With Thee.

By Jason Dungan

Other Reviews of Clinic


Do It!


Read More

View all articles by Jason Dungan

Find out more about Domino

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.