MusicRecord Reviews

Clinic: Free Reign

Free Reign continues the rather lukewarm stream of albums and EPs Clinic has released since its initial run of still-great output, including 3 EPs, Internal Wrangler and Walking With Thee. Those early releases came out of nowhere, mined untapped ‘60s and ’70s influences and exhibited an icy demeanor. It was glued together by ramshackle percussion, groovy bass and timeless mystique, all contained behind those bizarre surgeon outfits. Working with the same sonic palette of influences and vibes, each release starting with Winchester Cathedral has been devoid of that dark excitement. The songs have all been charming enough, but something’s missing.

Here we find the band testing the waters just a bit, without finding courage (or want?) to try anything new. Opening track “Misty” channels Spacemen 3’s dropped-out beauty, jamming on harmonium and drum machine like Broadcast at its best. “For The Season” and “You” are slower affairs that recall the sullen beauty of the band’s prettier moments—particularly “Distortions” and “Mr. Moonlight.” Tracks like “See Saw” and “King Kong” perpetuate a filler vibe, the sound of Clinic jamming along for its own interest.

If you’ve stayed on board this long, you won’t be jumping ship with Free Reign. But if you’re a newcomer, better start with Clinic’s salad days.


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