The Clientele The Violet Hour

[Merge; 2003]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: chamber pop, britpop
Others: Belle & Sebastian, Galaxie 500, The Shins, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci

I have to admit that I was taken by surprise the first time I listened to The Clientele’s The Violet Hour. I was expecting the same old dreamy and predictive pop music that has been churned out of the U.K. recently. I certainly did not expect the album to create such a warm and hazy feeling throughout my entire mind and soul. The Violet Hour is possibly the most gorgeous and dazzling psychedelic pop record since 1991’s Red Chair Fadeway’s Curiouser and Curiouser. I have to admit, psychedelic pop is not my typical choice for musical entertainment but The Violet Hour is very effective at creating a sweet, subtle and peaceful escape from modern day iniquity. Overall, this album creates shelter between the beauty and attraction that it is conveying and the remainder of the world. And that is what separates it from other same genre releases.

The Violet Hour is built on solid musical foundations. Alasdair MacLean’s sweet and breathy vocals are a disjointed but adaptable mix to the luscious guitar and rhythm. Adding a mix of new and improved instruments, such as steel guitar, violins and chimes, The Violet Hour builds on the musical genre and explores a surreal and less affluent path. This slight innovation creates an original and modern sound to psychedelic, usually misrepresented as a derivative of the 60s. The Clientele brings even more warmth and cordiality to a sound that often is misrepresented and creates an affiliation with more relevant modern day poets such as the California-Mexico hybrid of Calexico and the Southern alt-folk of Califone. All of these artists have taken their sound and cross-bred it with modern day indie music, bridging a gap and introducing indie music listeners to a new or newly discovered genre of music. This is the strength of The Clientele’s The Violet Hour.

Typically, psychedelic pop can sound downright monotonous and repetitive but The Clientele have built a solid album by taking a genre and adding texture and innovation to it. The Violet Hour is extremely pleasant and may be one of this year’s surprise hit records. I hope so because the world could use a little beauty and peacefulness.

1. The Violet Hour
2. Voices in the mall
3. When you and I were young
4. Missing
5. Jamaican rum rhumba
6. House on fire
7. Everybody's gone
8. Porcelain
9. Haunted melody
10. Prelude
11. Lamplight
12. The house always wins
13. Policeman getting lost