Clinic Do It!

[Domino; 2008]

Styles: pop-damaged Silver Apples/Suicide cocktail with a tamborine/beat
Others: Radiohead? Beta Band? Help me out here…

Internal Wrangler was an explosive debut. Its cover art was based on Ornette Coleman's Ornette!, and the music was as refreshing as one of Coleman's wicked sax blasts. Sadly, the Liverpudlians failed to seal the deal, offering less variety with each LP. Walking With Thee was a passable print in lieu of the original, but Winchester Cathedral did not reproduce well, and Visitations, short of a farce, was grainy. When, oh when, will Clinic take that next step, proving that their initial innovations weren't but a whisper in the wind, a fluke with no follow-through?

Clinic's answer was to just Do It!, and there's really nothing To It. No one expects these guys to reinvent the Feel. All we ask is that they inject their Silver Apples harvests with energy implants. Show me a little heart, dammit. They come awful close to reconciling their past, present, and future with Do It!. The clarinet solo tossed into "Shopping Bag" will be enough to cause impromptu celebrations if you hear it at the right time, and the heightened ’60s influence -- how predictable/effective, eh? -- lends that extra something.

Too bad they sound as desperate as they do inspired. If you’ve never heard Clinic, Do It! could easily be your Internal Wrangler. It’s tricked-out and cozier than a warm leather seat; it ends with a bang, and that delectable doo-wop flutter is still lodged somewhere in the aftertaste.

But beneath the flourishes – tugboat whistles, synths, clarinet solos – you’ll find them using exactly the same vehicles they’ve always used. Ade Blackburn’s wriggling warble wears thin the most quickly because he’s the most locked into his shtick, but don’t worry -- there’s plenty of melodica, flowing tom-stomp tempos, and familiar jingles to remind you that his backing band hasn’t changed as much as they’d have you think.

Do It! is rarely dull. Uninspired? Yes. But it’s never dull. You’ll have to decide for yourself which of these is more important. I made my choice long, long ago.

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