Clinic keep riding their pony through their one-horse town on their latest, Do It!. The Liverpool band may be most recognizable for the surgical masks and matching costumes they wear on stage (and seemingly everywhere else), but their highly distorted alt-country is something no other band quite matches. Do It!, their fifth full-length, isn’t that different than their last, 2006’s Visitations (QRO review), or any before it, for that matter. But it’s still a sound all their own.
“Memories” opens Do It! with the trademark distorted alt-country in a procession, but the chorus is melodic, creating a nice juxtaposition. The following “Tomorrow” is more of a stripped distort (if that makes any sense), with melodica. The first single, “Free Not Free”, is more relaxed, even pretty and touching, making it a nice change on the album, but the second single, “The Witch (Made To Measure)” holds up better on its own, its alt-distort-country twang actually catchy.
With a sound so unusual – not just alt-country meets distortion, but instruments like the melodica (though it’s getting more and more popular these days…), and singer Ade Blackburn’s clenched teeth vocals – it might seem like ‘catchy’ isn’t a word you’d throw around much, but Clinic often is. It’s kind of ‘in spite of themselves’ on pieces like the high twang procession “Corpus Christi” and the more pressing “High Coin”, but you can tell they’re having fun on the rockabilly “Shopping Bag” (reminiscent of their great 2000 single, “The Return of Evil Bill”) and kazoo-press “Winged Wheel”.
When they go further off their reservation, Clinic isn’t quite as fine, such as on the fuzzier “Emotions” (the closest the band will ever come to ‘easy listening’) and the quiet force of “Mary & Eddie”. “Coda”, the finisher (naturally), is a monochrome almost-instrumental, with church bells thrown into what becomes kind of a ‘jam’. Considering they’ve got their sandbox all to themselves, the four-piece probably doesn’t need to venture out, but they do keep the record from sounding too one-note.
With an output higher than many of today’s more experimental bands (an LP every other year since 2000 – and a b-sides collection last year, Funf), the lack of evolution can be rather apparent. But this isn’t to say Do It! is the same song, played again – it’s a bit brighter than previous records (and not just in the title). Moreover, it’s another strong performance in a row – and that’s more than you can say for most bands…