The Clientele - Alone And Unreal - The Best Of The Clientele (Pointy Records) 2

The Clientele – Alone And Unreal – The Best Of The Clientele (Pointy Records)


Even if nobody else was listening back in the nineties, it seems that Mercury Rev were. The lazy, hazy minimalism of tracks like ‘Reflections After Jane’, marinated in reverb, surely must have laid the golden drawbridge for the New Yorkers’ seminal 1998 album ‘Deserter’s Songs‘. Though having said that, I’ve just noticed that the latter album actually came first. Oh well, I’m relatively certain that the Revvers must have at least seen The Clientele live before conducting their magnum opus.

Their career is an odd one, having formed way back in 1991 and building a loyal live following, yet they were unable to get any label to actually properly release anything until finding their spiritual home at Pointy records almost a decade later. Despite ‘(I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine’ being used in the Keanu Reeves vehicle ‘The Lake House’, commercial success has been confoundingly elusive. ‘Alone And Unreal’, then, is attempt to redress the balance with a collection of tracks from their handful of albums along with one new track, ‘On A Summer Trail’.

A distinctive wooziness runs through much of The Clientele’s output. ‘Harvest Time’, for example, is a moody, heavy legged trudge through open fields at midnight, whereas the aforementioned ‘…Make You Mine’ has a weary, can’t sleep aura about it, full of longing and aching beauty. Not that the same Jack pops out of every box; there’s far more to them than that. As evidence, I can offer up the staccato, ‘London Calling’ type chords of ‘Bookshop Casanova’, which eventually picks up to something akin to The Beatles having discovered disco during their ‘Abbey Road’ phase, and delivers the pithy refrain of “You’ve got my name, pick up my number“. It rather pleasingly paints a more playful side to the band and is all the better for it.

Alasdair MacLean‘s ‘Losing Haringay’ is a highlight too, a talkie song so rich in atmosphere that it’s easy to be carried away and transported to the same location depicted in the lyric – “I looked up, and realised I was sitting in a photograph. I remember clearly – this photograph was taken by my mother in 1982, outside our front garden in Hampshire“. It’s a fond recollection of childhood and full of charisma.

The ‘new’ song here is actually one of last year’s singles, ‘On A Summer Trail’ – a typically summery Byrds like jangle, in keeping with their general ethos, while other tracks call to mind Gene Clark, Simon and Garfunkel, Lambchop and The La’s. It’s a spellbinding record at times, the shimmering guitars wistful and determined, but the spirit always free. And thankfully, the songs are nowhere near the pretentious twaddle that my last sentence was.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.