Clinic Visitations

It’s still a bit of a head scratcher how back in 2002 surgical mask wearing synth nerds Clinic secured themselves a Grammy nomination on the back of their, albeit worthy, sophomore effort, Walking With Thee. Nonetheless, those were halcyon days for the Liverpudlians, who received critical acclaim and commercial recognition unlike few bands in their mould. They appeared poised to do special things, until they put out their next album, the underwhelming Winchester Cathedral. With Visitations, the band attempt to climb back to that level of excellence of almost five years ago. Here, they have streamlined their approach, coiling their already tense, melodica-tinged garage songs even tighter around vocalist Ade Blackburn’s through-gritted-teeth delivery. And certainly, the abrasive guitar licks and the tom and bass drum rhythmic attack featured on leadoff track "Family” has its considerable appeal. Yet Clinic appear disconcertingly comfortable with repeatedly utilising this formula — "Gideon,” "Children of Kellogg” and "The New Seeker” are just some of the products of the "Family” template. In fact, it’s the looser, roomier tracks on the album that really click, i.e., the R&B finger-snapper "Animal/Human” or the dub-y spookiness of "”Harvest (within you).” In trying to come up with a foot stomping, up-tempo return to form, Clinic have stalled somewhat with this effort, which goes to show that there’s a very finite limit on the number of ways you can stretch the same idea. (Domino)