The Clientele – God Save The Clientele

The Clientele
God Save The Clientele

The music The Clientele make is nothing short of amazing. On God Save The Clientele they create not just a song or two that fit any mood or feeling but an entire album that lends itself to any situation. In the span of 14 songs they take the oldest of influences from the Velvets, Beatles, and Big Star to the most recent, Lambchop, Belle & Sebastian, a little Wilco, and craft something unique into what can only be describes as “The Clientele Sound.” On past albums and singles the band has always flirted with a sound to call their own but now it comes to wonderful fruition.

To take that next step The Clientele have added some new friends and new elements to complete their sound. The album was recorded with Mark Nevers and features synth by Tony Crow, both of Lambchop. Though Crow doesn’t play on it, “Isn’t Life Strange” sounds like it came directly off of What Another Man Spills. Pat Sansone of Wilco has been made an honorary member of the band and contributes as well, showing why he’s a valuable multi-instrumentalist for them. They’ve also added a new official member, Mel Draisey, joining in on piano, vocals, and violin; a wonderful addition that not only fleshes out the sound on record but will aid in the live setting.

The true winning contribution that makes God Save The Clientele a success is Louis Phillipe who provided the string arrangements. The strings are the secret weapon to the album. “From Brighton Beach To Santa Monica” almost, and this isn’t meant in a bad way, caresses the edges of Johnny Mathis territory and they provide a nice bed to counter the bouncy melody of “The Dance Of Hours” while a story is recited, similar the VU’s “Murder Mystery.”

Labeling something “literate” has always been an insult of sorts. What does it mean for one act to be literate? Using big words? Writing lyrics in iambic pentameter? While The Clientele has used the poetry of surrealist Joe Bousquet & Ralph Hodgson before, that isn’t why they could be considered “literate.” When listening to GSTC you could be easily transported into a time of Fitzgerald-like elegance or Tolkien’s Middle Earth all within the same song. It’s up to your ears and imagination to determine which.

Its beauty also lays in the ability to adapt to any mood or any sort of day or any sort of feeling. To best experience music it depends on the weather. God Save… is perfect for rainy weekends, long summer drives, cold winter days wrapped in a blanket, a walk in the park through the fog; anything short of hurricanes or Death Valley. It’s an album perhaps best suited for the early tender stages of romance in any of the above situations or when things have intimately progressed further.

While there isn’t a song that will stick out immediately such as “When K Got Over Me” or “I Can’t Seem To Make You Mine” there are plenty of songs that will find themselves ingrained in your memory long after a listen. The Clientele has been criticized before for making repetitious slow music, which is utter bollocks, but there are several more upbeat songs prevalent. In fact if there is one drawback to the album it’s that these are sequenced near the end of the album instead of spread out. But really, a minor issue when there is so much more offered.