I didn’t think Clinic were ever coming back, fortunately they have. Wheeltappers and Shunters is the Liverpool band’s eighth album but first for seven years. The title is taken from a 1970s variety show hosted by Bernard Manning - but don’t worry, it’s an inside joke, they’re not a bunch of ignorant bigots. On Domino.
Vinyl LP £21.49 WIGLP424
Black vinyl LP on Domino.
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- Includes download code
CD £9.99 WIGCD424
CD on Domino.
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Limited Vinyl LP £21.99 WIGLP424X
Indies exclusive opaque red heavyweight vinyl LP on Domino.
- Coloured vinyl
- Indies only
- Limited edition
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New Clinic! What a joy. The hugely influential North-westerners are back with their eighth studio album, ‘Wheeltappers and Shunters’. It’s a biting, occasionally brutal, and compact criticism of that kind of nostalgia for a formica-topped world of sly racism, bad food, and nationalism.
Now, for those unaware, ‘Wheeltappers and Shunters’ was an old, slightly naff 70s variety show-type program hosted by Bernard Manning. It had crooners, comedians, magicians (you get the idea). I suppose, then, the title is a reference to the desperation (and in part success) from some people to return to the 1970s. This is reinforced by the sarcastic and often biting song titles such as ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Rejoice!’. Anyone who has heard one snippet of the news recently will know that these are two things it’s rare to be seen doing. Please understand that this is a thoroughly Brexit-y record. There are lyrics such as ‘Congratulations, you’re almost done’ which has a kind of double-meaning, especially considering ‘our’ exit from the EU. One wonders firstly why some people are congratulating us for being ‘done’ and also what being ‘done’ will actually mean.
Of course political undertones do not an album maketh but still, sonically this album is superb. There’s all sorts going on, as it is with the whole of Clinic’s ouevre. There’s a demented psych element, art-rock, light electronica, hints of jazz and music-hall, and brutal proto-punk, as well as Clinic’s trademark analogue keyboards and organs, drum machines, and lots of surf guitar riffs. I suppose there are a few constants, such as Ade Blackburn’s vocals which constantly sound like he’s either stopped crying or screaming. Also, there’s always a fondness for dissonant chord changes, further reinforcing that sense of uncertainty that pervades the whole of this record.
Please don’t let your inevitable Brexit fatigue put you off from listening to this album, it’s heartening to hear that there are, at least, a few more islands of beauty left in this world.
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