When music is described as “introspective,” usually it’s with someone like Lou Barlow or Morrissey, the tortured soul wringing sad stories from his lonely heart. The Clientele’s music is introspective in a different sense; it’s in-your-head, solitary music depicting feelings and places, and the ways the two are connected.
Do you know the occasion when you’re walking down the street and suddenly have an absolutely clear awareness of that moment: of the way the light is shining through the trees, of the sounds and sights of that particular place at that particular time? The kind of moment that in its uniqueness feels as though it could be a dream, though nothing especially dreamlike or bizarre is taking place? The four songs on The Clientele’s A Fading Summer EP capture that sort of feeling perfectly, through graceful pop melodies and sparse musical arrangements. They evoke the thoughts and feelings that come with particular times and places in a calming way, similar to bands like the Red House Painters or The Blue Nile, though musically they share little to nothing with either band.
The Clientele, a trio from the London area, have been gaining a buzz among vinyl buyers for a while now, through their handful of hard-to-find 7” singles. A Fading Summer is their introduction to CD buyers, consisting of both previously released and previously unreleased songs. All four songs are beautiful, not only in the way they seem to transport you to a certain time and place, but in the way they combine sheer pop melody with a sense for atmosphere. My favorite is “Saturday,” an absolutely stunning piece of gentleness.
Since the band has not yet released a full-length album (they are currently working on one), this EP has made my anticipation for such an album quite high. Yet A Fading Summer isn’t only an appetizer before the upcoming main course. It’s a brief but cohesive and brilliant release; the four songs hold together as one shining entity. This EP also brings to mind how underused the four-song CD EP is as a format. A Fading Summer is the rare EP that isn’t just a sideshow to an album or a tease of an upcoming “full-length” CD. Still, though A Fading Summer obviously isn’t just a business tool to hook me into buying future releases, it has definitely worked to that effect. The Clientele’s pop songs transport me to a place so pretty and so transcendent that I want to return as often as possible.