Clinic – Free Reign
Clinic are known for donning surgical masks, yet their seventh album is not a surgeon’s creation; Free Reign staggers along somewhat messily, resembling a heavily medicated patient. This more relaxed pacing allows the eclectic and often eccentric post-punk quartet to form a warmer and more experimental tone in comparison to their 2010 release Bubblegum. However, once the band get caught in a repetitive krautrock/psych-rock groove, it can be difficult to pull them out of it.
Ade Blackburn’s vocals and lyrics retain their ability to bridge often conflicting adjectives – sinister, creepy, surreal and gentle all come to mind – yet only on the spacey garage rock of ‘See Saw’ and the moody psychedelia of ‘Miss You’ do the band capitalise on this by varying their dynamics. The album’s droning melodies require patient listening, as they are often layered with brass instruments to create jazz-funk undertones. Free Reign is not Clinic’s most accessible work, and its quirky experimentalism may challenge impatient listeners.