God Save the Clientele is a fitting title for a band that very wryly announced last year that they might not even put out a new album. However, since only a couple months later Clientele front-man Alasdair MacLean can joyfully pronounce that his "heart is playing like a violin over the frolicking bounce of a mid-60s Kinks groove, maybe the same one who still lets Johnny Rotten show his ugly mug has given these nice lads from London one more chance. Unlike Strange Geometry, which caught critics and fans off-guard and deservedly coasted to the top of many year-end lists, God Save does not contain either the intricate stories of British life or the musical cleverness that made the last album so compelling. Not that those elements are lacking but the literal observations in MacLeans lyrics that fans have come to expect are not as forthcoming and are often dressed up in choruses that play out too long or are lost in lush orchestration. Musically this, like all the Clientele albums, sounds like a collection of influences; its still comparable to the more baroque rock sounds of the Zombies and Kinks but with more Americana flourishes. These are done better on opener "Here Comes the Phantom, which sounds like a sped up version of Terry Calliers "Ordinary Joe then sounds uncannily like Mojave 3 when they bring in the slide and acoustic guitars. Wearing your influences on your sleeve, if done right, is not necessarily a bad thing and there are enough decent songs on this album to possibly hold the listener over until the next one, which hopefully will be titled The Clientele Are Born Again.
(Merge, www.mergerecords.com) (Merge)