Clinic – Free Reign
Now on their seventh LP, Clinic’s career has spanned a period in which rock that combines innovation and poppiness has become increasingly thin on the ground; but the Liverpudlians have always been hovering on the margins, quietly producing record after record of eccentric, leftfield, yet decidedly un-ostentatious indie. The key lies in their mining of influences that tend to be underappreciated by most pop-inspired guitar acts: Can, Neu! and the Monks, for example, are all shoehorned into Free Reign’s deliberately sketchy collision of catchiness and obliquity.
It’s an approach that works most impressively on rockier songs like Seesaw and King Kong, when the trademark vintage organs take centre stage, and Clinic explore connections between post-punk angularity and driving krautrock. Some of the more indulgent pieces, such as the clarinet and wah-wah wig-out of Cosmic Radiation, can feel meandering; Clinic are at their best when their broad sweep of influences is kept in check by their melodic sensibilities.