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Clinic: Walking With Thee



Album: Walking With Thee
Label: Domino

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With its second album Walking With Thee, the curious British band Clinic was smart enough to avoid tampering with success: The album is so like last year's terrific Internal Wrangler that it feels more like a companion than a sequel. Similar in mood, pacing, instrumentation, and songwriting style, Walking With Thee almost seems to take a second stab at the same set of songs. Even a track-for-track comparison between the two albums holds water: The new "Pet Eunoch" sounds suspiciously like Wrangler's "Hippy Death Suite," and the album-closing would-be ballad "For The Wars" feels just like "Goodnight Georgie," the album-closing would-be ballad from Internal Wrangler. Outside comparisons that were apt the first time—The Velvet Underground, Radiohead, Suicide—remain so, but are valuable more as spiritual forebears than sonic contemporaries. Clinic again succeeds in encapsulating dozens of disparate influences without slavishly copying any of them, incorporating small bits of everything from Afro-beat (on "The Equaliser") to dub-influenced melodica ("Welcome") to Stereolab-esque guitar drones (everywhere, but particularly on the title track) into its own stew. There are subtle differences: Walking With Thee largely ditches the non-musical sounds (buzzing insects, locomotive whistles) that dotted Internal Wrangler, and the production is markedly more focused. But the songs remain extraordinary, from the sneeringly groovy "Sunlight Bathes Our Home" to the gently angelic "For The Wars," and for fans of Clinic's debut album, that fact is paramount. Three or four more records exactly like these might eventually get tedious, but for now, Clinic can't be faulted for sticking to a template that works so well.