Clientele | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Quizzed last year by the fanzine Chickfactor, guitarist Alasdair Maclean confessed that the harshest catcall ever unleashed on his band the Clientele was a request for "more reverb." In fact Suburban Light (Merge), the debut album by this psychedelic trio from north London, already sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a mine shaft; the reverb is so excessive it verges on gimmickry. But even if they were recorded dry, Maclean's skeletal songs would be beautifully eerie, evoking with minimal instrumentation the sophisticated psychedelia of Love and the Zombies (or, to cite more current influences, Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi). Like so many other low-budget bands in England, the Clientele have spent years fussing over one seven-inch single after another, collecting blurbs from the NME, and waiting until it's their turn to be the saviors of British rock. Suburban Light is drawn from five of those singles and laced with a handful of other tracks, but its moonlit songs manage to be coherent as well as individually striking, with strong melodies, stately guitar arpeggios, and moody, impressionistic lyrics. This is their first show in Chicago, where people will be too supportive to heckle them but not supportive enough to shut up while they're playing. Sunday, June 17, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.


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