Clinic, ‘Do It!’

By • Apr 8th, 2008 • Category: Album Reviews

You’ve got to hand it to Clinic: the band sticks to its principles.

First, there is the always-present medical garb. Then there’s the members’ borderline anonymity (a result of the medical garb). Finally – and most importantly – there’s the trademark, increasingly distant take on pseudo psychedelia. Yes, the band made up its mind early, and five LPs into a career is no time to second-guess convictions.

This rock ‘n’ roll resoluteness is the cornerstone of longevity–that is, if those initial principles continue to make sense. But Clinic’s early sentiments have grown more tired each time the Liverpudlian ensemble parades around in surgical masks or releases a collection of waveringly abstract tunes. With every album since the band’s genre-bending debut in 2000, the quartet has sounded a tad more aloof, confused and harebrained – like a musical version of Michael Keaton’s “Multiplicity.”

However, if Clinic is anything, it’s steadfast: after all, five LPs into a career still is no time to second-guess convictions.

Do It! picks up right where Ade Blackburn’s acidic vocals left off two years ago, as do his bandmates’ reverb-drenched guitars and static-shrouded keyboards. Yet despite the stark similarities to the band’s entire catalog, these 11 songs accomplish something novel. For the first time, Clinic has recorded an album better than its predecessor. In fact, Do It! is bested only by the band’s stellar first LP.

The record’s best moments witness Clinic’s once-tired tactics sounding fresh again. The spacey jam sessions haven’t sounded this organic – this live – in almost a decade. The vocals, although still filtered, have returned to sounding human. If five LPs is no time to second-guess convictions, it’s the perfect time to figure out how to work with them. And Do It! does just that, as the band finally has grasped how to experiment within those self-imposed parameters instead of sounding clipped by them.

Do It! is an exercise in what once was good being so again, even if the retro-chic kitsch only harkens to eight years ago, and the callback just happens to reference their own band. It’s what Clinic always has done. They’re just doing it well again. After all, five years is no time to second-guess convictions. But it’s a perfect time to hone them.

Soundcheck Magazine, April 2008

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