Free Reign


On their self-produced seventh album, these Leeds art-rockers trade intensity for laser-like focus. Something intangible pushes the songs forward, despite seemingly loose constructions. While Free Reign marks the return of Clinic’s trademark fuzzy guitars—lacking on their previous album, the mostly acoustic Bubblegum—the sound is less bristly than on earlier efforts. It’s also more psychedelic, with vintage organs providing swirling texture and bass lines adding rubber-band snap. Singer Ade Blackburn has a consistently cool delivery, and swinging from stoic to world-weary, he expresses desires with an air of resignation. His lyrics can be perplexing, like when he makes a refrain of the word “seesaw” on the track of the same name, but they’re suited to the music. Occasionally, Free Reign takes somnambulant turns, but the ticking, barely audible percussion guides listeners through each dreamlike landscape. After years of thrashing about, Clinic is ready to pause and look around. –Amanda Farah

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