Cool as a Summer Breeze
British band The Clientele captured the mood of a melancholy, rainy day with their successful, prior release, Strange Geometry. They stay true to their sound with their latest album, Bonfires on the Heath, without being repetitive, while creating the feel of a lazy summer-into-autumn afternoon.
Vibe is king and most of Bonfires is a wistful daydream, with the fluidity of Grizzly Bear and idyllic Beach Boys vocals. It’s not dance-worthy, but it’s a great CD to chill to.
Singer Alasdair MacLean described this album as “very spooky” and “full of ghosts,” and it has partly to do with “watching yourself disappear.” The standout songs do have a darkness that makes the music more grounded. On tracks like the gentle and sad “Jennifer and Julia” the repetitive lyrics linger, while “Never Saw Them Before” feels like a memory of a summer long ago. The lyrics tend toward the abstract with a psychedelic tinge, but the mood and the isolation is clear: “Autumn round the corner / With its eeriness / Someone’s smoking in a hatchback / Screwing on your lawn.”
The soothing title track features the slide guitar and it transports the listener to another place. Lyrics like “Late October sunlight in the wood / Nothing here quite moves the way it should” contribute to the slow pace.
The more upbeat tracks don’t work as well. “Sketch” sounds great instrumentally, but the lyrics are a series of seemingly non-related words that don’t add up to much.
Bonfires on the Heath won’t disappoint. The Clientele have developed their sound over the last decade and delivered a CD that’s familiar but different and definitely worthy of attention and admiration from their fans.