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The Clientele first formed in the early 1990s in the backwoods of suburban Hampshire, playing together as kids at school remote from any kind of music scene, but hypnotized by the magical strangeness of Galaxie 500 and Felt and the psych pop of Love and the Zombies. During a pub conversation the band collectively voted that it was OK to be influenced by Surrealist poetry but not OK to have any shouting or blues guitar solos. From that moment on they put their stamp on a kind of eerie, distanced pure pop, stripped to its essentials and recorded quickly to 4 track analogue tape.
These recordings were released as lovingly packaged 7” singles at the
tail-end of the 90s, and compiled as the millennium ended into the debut album, ‘Suburban Light’, now hailed as one of the finest records of that decade. From the faded pop art of ‘Suburban Light’ came a move into the fog with the 2nd LP, ‘The Violet Hour’, released in 2003. An attempt to create a deeper, more mysterious sound, it was an archetypal Clientele record: hypnotic, self-enclosed, meticulously creating its own world.
The Clientele re-invented their music with Strange Geometry (2005) and God Save the Clientele (2007); Brian O’Shaughnessy (My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream) and Mark Nevers produced (Lambchop), and El Records legend Louis Philippe provided typically gorgeous string arrangements. The sound was bigger, brighter, and clearer, MacLean’s ringing, classically-influenced guitar style and James Hornsey’s melodic bass combining to create a different kind of depth and atmosphere for the newly sparkling songs, which now came complete with crossover appeal; incongruously, one of them even featured in the Keanu Reeves / Sandra Bullock weepie, "The Lake House".
Released to rave reviews in the UK and the US, their final album ‘Bonfires on the Heath’ was in a sense a return to the Clientele’s roots; the dreamlike suburban landscapes first encountered in the early singles, their trippy sense of menace stronger.
Instantly identifiable The Clientele sound like no one else - although they are cited as an influence by contemporary bands as diverse as the War on Drugs, Panda Bear and the Fleet Foxes. The band have played only one gig in the UK since a sold out show at the ICA in 2010, however, interest in the Clientele has remained strong with last year's reissue of their debut album being awarded a 9.1 score by Pitchfork, rumours that they are recording again and an upcoming ‘best of’ compilation album.
- Orson Absence, Carshalton Beeches, 2nd June 2015
Selected Press Quotes:
'a perfectly realized amalgam of time, place, sound, and subject matter ... music that is unfailingly gorgeous' - Pitchfork - best reissue, 9.1
'one of the most remarkable winning streaks in alt-pop' - Av Club
‘A twilit suburb of English pop, as though a young TS Eliot had fronted The Zombies.’ - Uncut
'no other band of the past decade inhabited the dual landscapes of darkness and light so sublimely.' - Popmatters
‘The Clientele blossom under close attention and so completely capture
a sense of time and place might almost have been painted’ - Daily Mail
‘Moments of majesty, mystery and magic’ - The Independent 4/5