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Clinic - Fantasy Island (Album Review)

  • Written by  Johnno



Dreaming is just so unnecessary. That's why I'm glad I rarely, rarely ever dream. Why can't the brain just leave us be and shut itself down, so we can enjoy our slumber in that sweet, sweet, blank void? And as for lucid dreaming - what kind of shit is that!? Having a dream so vivid that I'm fooled into thinking that it's reality? Fuck you, brain. Get outta here!


But if you're in need of taking a dreamscape vacation, might I suggest Clinic's latest album, Fantasy Island. In typical Clinic fashion, the overall body of work is dense in simplicity and the oddness of the individual sounds that make them. Fantasy Island also appears to be the first album made by only two members of the band, Ade Blackburn, and Jonathan Hartley. Even though, the quartet has been cut in half on their ninth studio album, the music has remained true to the classic Clinic sound, fusing garage and psychedelic rock, yet blurring delineated lines within the overall rock genre.


After multiple listens to Fantasy Island, I couldn't help but envision each track as its own stop on a resort-build tropical island. The lead off track, ‘The Lamplighter’, welcomes you to your vacation stay at the dock, rich with a backing ukulele and synthy whooshes reminiscent of Polynesian wind. Singer Ade Blackburn, mentions being at the "edge of the world", but what world? Am I even alive here? It feels like lucid dreaming. But goddamn it, this is making really want to get away for a week... or least chance on a heavy dream while napping post-brunch.


This whole album is drenched with contrasting ideas. Programmed drum loops to get your head bobbing, but because of its automation, it loses warmth if those songs were recorded with live drums. Synthy melodies allude to an other-worldiness but then paired with samples from Earthbound TV shows or non-Clinic personnel. Like Mitch Hedberg said, "Dreaming is work, you know - there I am in a comfortable bed, the next thing you know I have to build a go-kart with my ex-landlord".  Different, individual ideas that exist on their own are married together but work uniquely when paired.  So, if there's something to take away here, Clinic can be the soundtrack to Mitch Hedberg's dreams.


Highlights on Fantasy Island are the tracks 'Miracles', 'Refractions', and 'On The Other Side...', the latter of which utilizes an alto sax as a neo-noir throwback, aiding to the mystery crawling through this mind vacation.


But back to reality.


If you're already a fan or familiar with Clinic, it's what would be expected from them. Still weird. Still hypnotic and consuming, but not straying from what they're known for as it can still sit alongside to songs like "The Equaliser" or nestles in between previous LP releases two decades ago.


But for those uninitiated to Clinic's catalogue, it would be a great step away from anything "typical", and an obvious break from what's considered "radio-friendly". Ain't no singles on Fantasy Island, just a sauntering trip through white sands under dancing constellations piercing through clear skies.


That sound nice.


I need a vacation.


8 / 10




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