Review by Hoverbee
Known for the use of vintage instruments, Ade Blackburn’s high-pitched mumbled vocals and 60’s psychedelic influences, Clinic has carved out their own definitive sound. However, these four lads from Liverpool have long been accused of generating a sound too similar from album-to-album. After 13 years of doing what they do, it seems the band has finally created an album to put a stop to those kind of comments. Clinic’s sixth release, Bubblegum, still has a lot of the same elements from previous albums, yet takes the sound in a new direction.
The band has dropped its raw, gritty and edgier sounds in favor of more mellow, dreamy and pop ones. They’ve reduced the amount of keyboards/organs and added more violins, not to mention copious amounts of wah-wah pedal. Songs like “Baby” and the single “I’m Aware” demonstrate this shift toward a more gentle Clinic. The new gentle Clinic and the old edgy Clinic meet and mate on tracks such as “Evelyn” and “Milk & Honey” giving birth to multifarious, hybrid tunes. To really mess with your mind, they added tracks like “Radiostory” and “Un Astronauta En Cielo” which are a complete departure from the original sound, with the former entirely ditching Blackburn’s well-known vocals in favor of a spoken-word narration by the band’s photographer Jason Evans and the latter being an instrumental influenced by a Brazilian art movement called tropicalia. Don’t despair, the tracks “Lion Tamer” and “Orangutan” are straight up, unadulterated Clinic.
The band has manged to toss it up without throwing it away. It’s a new sound for them, but still undeniably unique and Clinic. Longtime fans will not be completely beside themselves with the changes, as we have heard the more melodious side of the band here and there throughout the years. It’s a great album and we aren’t disappointed, but deep down we want them to do what they’ve always done. New fans, however, may find this album more accessible than older ones, adding to the band’s fanbase.