Friday, October 2, 2009

Album of the Week, 10/3/09--The Clientele, "Bonfires on the Heath"

This week I bring you The Clientele's Bonfires on the Heath, the latest album from a London-based mod squad who've been crafting dream pop since 1991. I know my Jane's-Addiction-cranking-self was not listening to this band in the early nineties, but now I'm all ears. The album won't be released until October 6 (that's Tuesday), but you can preview a few tracks here or on the band's myspace page. The Clientele is a recent find of mine—a breezy discovery that might just scatter from mind like a pile of leaves, but it's too much fun jumping in right now.

The Clientele was originally formed by vocalist/guitarist Alasdair MacLean and his school chum, bassist James Hornsey, under the name The Butterfly Collectors. After the original incarnation of the band failed to take flight from its cocoon, it reformed as The Clientele in 2000 with the release of Suburban Light. Over the past several years, the band has turned from a less reverb-heavy sound toward cleaner production, emphasizing string and piano arrangements alongside melancholy lyrics inspired by surrealist poetry. (Pea coats and Pierre Reverdy? Perhaps it smacks a bit of pretension, but I'm willing to overlook it in this case.) The Violet Hour (2003) is considered their classic album, while God Save the Clientele (2007) boosted the band's reputation in the United States, where it still has a larger fan base than in the United Kingdom.

The Clientele also happens to be composed of 1/4 Supermodel:

That's actually violinist Mel Draisey, who became the band's first female member in 2006. She also handles keyboards, percussion, and backup vocals and bears a convenient resemblance to Nico, thereby solidifying The Clientele's chic factor with hipsters 'round the world.

Often compared to the Zombies or Donovan, The Clientele will be your sunshine supermen on misty fall days when all you want is to don your pea coat and slouch about town. At times eerie, at times sad and lovely, the songs off Bonfires on the Heath somehow manage to overcome any nostalgia and sound fresh.

The Clientele, "Harvest Time"

The Clientele, "I Wonder Who We Are"

In "Bookshop Cassanova," below, The Clientele perfect their swinging 60s insouciance. The caffeine makes them go a little crazy in fits and spurts, but they're polite and take turns.

"Bookshop Cassanova" from God Save the Clientele (2007)


  1. brilliant! thanks for the recommendation on this band....

  2. Any time! Glad you found something you liked.