This ‘Clientele’ article was written by Jen Taylor, a GIGsoup contributor
‘The Clientele’ should be a name you recognise. Formed over two decades ago, two school boys playing together turned into a band of four (these days, just three), which has shared the good times, and struggled through the difficult years together. To be honest, this London band, originally from Hampshire arguably received more success and acclaim in America, though many Indie bands from both sides of the Atlantic list them as an influence.
Essentially they no longer exist, and haven’t for many years after they announced an indefinite hiatus in 2011. But they have been known to occasionally endorse an album reissue or reunite for some one-off gigs.
For fans of The Clientele, 2015 is shaping up to be a year of note due to the release of their album ‘Alone & Unreal: The Best of the Clientele’ – yes, they’ve joined the small group of indie bands who have released a ‘best of’ album. It features tracks drawn from most of their releases over the past decades.
The album has been put together well. Of course, these sorts of albums tend to be controversial in terms of the songs picked to feature – no combination will keep everyone happy. However, the chosen track listing works well and seems to mostly flow logically. The album is not merely a combination of all their singles from over the years, but a handpicked collection of songs that form an overall picture of an illustrious career.
Their music is a sort of distant, melancholic pop, and their songs are often underpinned by a feeling of sadness; for example, The Queen of Seville ends by melodically repeating the line ‘It’s going to be a lonely, lonely day’. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also be uplifting; the bright, clean guitar is a reminder that this is pop music and it’s not all so bad. There is a strong reminiscent mood to the songs on the album, which is fitting considering it is essentially looking back at what they have achieved.
Listening to their back catalogue shows the progression of the band, from the remnants of school boys obsessed with Felt and The Zombies, to the polished indie pop outfit that they became. It is interesting to see snapshots of such a career pulled together in one place, on one easily accessible album.
Old favourites such as Since K Got Over Me and the gloriously catchy Bookshop Casanova sit proudly alongside later hits such as On a Summer Trail, their 2014 single which hasn’t previously been released on an album.
Particularly enjoyable is the well placed interlude, Losing Haringey – the spoken-word story about loneliness, emptiness and reminiscing, alluding to the harshness of living in London, set to lyric-less vocals and dreamy guitar.
For anyone not familiar with The Clientele, this would be a good place to start. ‘Best of’ albums are the best introduction to a band’s popular and more commercial music. If you get hooked and want to know more, Pointy Records are also reissuing the band’s previous five albums in honour of this release: Suburban Light, Violet Hour, Strange Geometry, God Save The Clientele, and Bonfire On The Heath.
For the true aficionados, the deluxe version of ‘Alone & Unreal’ includes what is named their lost album of the mid-1990s, ‘The Sound of Young Basingstoke’.
To celebrate the release, The Clientele will also be playing a show in London on October 23rd, which really will be a must-attend event for fans as well as new listeners. Does this mean the band might reform? It’s probably unlikely, but keep your ears out for solo and side-projects.
‘Alone & Unreal: The Best of the Clientele’ is out September 4th on Pointy Records. The full track listing for the album is as follows: