Saturday, November 7, 2009

Review: The Clientele - Bonfires on the Heath (* * *)

Few bands have managed to create as many accomplished and acclaimed albums with as little reinvention as The Clientele. Since 2000’s compilation Suburban Light (an exquisite collection of the band’s early singles), the London-based quartet have remained remarkably true to their sound, never straying from the hazy, reverb-drenched 60s-esque pop style that has enamored so many, myself included. There have been minor changes to the group’s approach throughout the past ten years, and an in-depth analysis of each album reveals a subtle, methodical evolution (more instruments, higher production values, etc.), but these changes are understated enough as to be easily dismissed or unnoticed on a casual listen. And so the trend continues for The Clientele’s latest and quite possibly last effort, Bonfires on the Heath, another generous serving of smooth, low-key pop that often sounds remarkably like what preceded it, though here (and more than any other time perhaps) the band occasionally attempt a livelier, more energetic sound for their rumored finale. That’s not to say Bonfires on the Heath is likely to surprise anyone, and there’s still plenty (too much, really) of the band’s characteristically down-tempo balladry to be found scattered throughout the 12 tracks, but the album does at times feel more progressively full-bodied and upbeat even than 2007’s God Save The Clientele. (Continue Reading...)