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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Clientele
Strange Geometry
Merge Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

September 6, 2005
In the late 60s, just as today, tragically hip cult music lovers had to have an album to stack - or perhaps even hide - on their shelves for when they just wanted to feel good. Next to White Light/White Heat there might be a Beach Boys album snuck in - not cool or underground enough at the time to admit to friends, but still able to elicit an honest smile every time it spun its magic. Strange Geometry, by the Clientele, sounds like it should begin with the crackle of vinyl and be complete with the shy smirk of innate goodness. It is an album for the fashionable to admire when they abandon all pretenses and have an honest moment of enjoyment.

Inspired by the likes of Love, Brian Wilson and, most notably, Cardinal, Strange Geometry has no issues being an album you'll hate (and love) to love. It bears no guilt for its clear adoration of the 60s and makes no apologies for being a simple, feel good album - nor should it; it's perfect for exactly those reasons.

With Brian O'Shaugnessy at the helm, the first thing of notice - to fans and newcomers alike - is the crisp production given to these lush, striking works. Such treatment allows the melodies and intents of the Clientele to flourish immensely, marking Strange Geometry, immediately, as their finest work by glorious leaps and bounds. There are shimmering, Spectoresque moments as well as baroque, symphonic tendencies that slip in amid the gentle pop to give it additional layers of depth and interest. Though easy, and easily listenable, know that the Clientele's pop is deliberate: the strings of Louis Phillippe tingle with innovation and the hazy, clever delivery of vocalist Alasdair MacLean lingers delicately without end. It is instantly lovable, but there is certainly more to Strange Geometry than meets the ear.

As the opening chord progressions of "Since K Got Over Me" conjure memories of gorgeous Zombies' melodies, we are welcomed to a lovely world where even heartache is beautiful. Weary feet retire to the quivering, poignant languor of "I Can't Seem To (Make You Mine)" and are picked back up by the jangly, determined optimism of "My Own Face Inside the Trees."

Not a moment seems forced or over-the-top; each track simply inspires the very feelings it describes. Even when dabbling in psych-folk, like the beginning squall of "K", the Clientele return to their natural state so quickly they never, for a moment, feel off-putting. Instead, we are down when they are, inspired when they are and cautious when they are, but always through the eyes of optimism. "E.M.P.T.Y", which chronicles a misguided lover, is blessed with sheer infectiousness and raring guitars. Even in Strange Geometry's spunkiest moments, each track is achingly beautiful and worthy of the reflective mood it inspires; likewise, each stunningly forlorn moment is strengthened by an undying pop spirit.

With moments of luxurious, dramatic strings, "Impossible" is likely the most emotionally and aesthetically stirring track herein; its loping and even jazzy shifts turn what might otherwise be a conventional pop song into something wholly unpredictable. "Step Into the Light" is a crystallized moment by a rainsoaked window, a shiver induced instant of pure despair and beauty. Even when not in song, the spoken word outing, "Losing Haringey" possesses enough rich melody and emotion to give chills to all who listen; as an experimental take on mundane splendor, it encompasses the album's true heart: "I was happy just to sit," it admits, as are we.

Strange Geometry is something special to listen to; it feels like an album to treat yourself to as a reward for lovely deeds. It is something we deserve to listen to because of the inherent good in us all. So feel free to plant your hands firmly on the hips of your low, low rise jeans or cross your arms over your too-snug freak folk tee, but the Clientele will get you. When you can't help but smile, know that Strange Geometry has done its job.

Reviewed by Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other reviews by Sarah Peters



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