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The Clientele

Strange Geometry (Merge)

You know that old idea of "addition by subtraction"? Well, the Clientele has decided that it's total horse puckey. On the London trio's second full-length, the band diverges from its minimalist template of chiming guitars and brushed drums by layering on pillowy organ, noisy guitar bursts and a few brawny string parts (courtesy of UK cult icon Louis Philippe), making its melancholic folk-pop that much more striking. Throughout, Alasdair Maclean mixes a bit of cheer into his wavery, watery murmur — imagine a drowning sea captain noticing how pretty the moon is — while on "Losing Haringey" he grows downright nostalgic, delivering a lovingly detailed, spoken-word remembrance of London's past. The Clientele has always been able to write good songs; with a bit of Strange Geometry, the band has now written some great ones. — Dan Strachota