Clinic has always relied on a certain unnerving air of mystique to propel themselves beyond the trappings of the mundane, whether hiding behind their trademark surgical masks or more notably, through the dark collusion of made-to-menace distortion and creep-out keyboards that stitch together the Frankenstein fragments of their musical whole. Even if the template for that sound has changed little in their more than ten year career, they’ve nevertheless carved a pretty respectable niche for their seditious art-punk psychedelia.
On the coattails of last year’s somewhat tepid Visitations, it shouldn’t surprise that these Liverpudlians are, well, up to their old tricks again. So far making good on their promise to record a new album every year, Do It! picks up where the band left off the last go-around. Ever since their way back (2000) full-length debut Internal Wrangler, Clinic has more or less been on artistic auto-pilot, coasting through a series of efforts that never deviated much from their original formula of brooding yet often tenacious rock that is alternately mind-bending and un-tethered vitriol. Do It! is no exception.
While far from being another Winchester Cathedral, the band’s latest is not so much a step forward as it is a variation on a well established theme. There is of course the obligatory fuzz-punk throwback to the band’s EP days (“Shopping Bag”), while everything else culls bits and pieces from each of their other full-lengths. “Tomorrow” recalls the mid-tempo swagger of Walking With Thee‘s less harrowing moments. The ghost of Internal Wrangler is invoked most often (“The Witch (Made To Measure),” the watery lounge reverb of “Free Not Free”), which in this case proves a welcome reminiscence.
It’s quite easy to enjoy Do It! if you prefer consistency over experimentation, a familiar sound to call your own that’s just as you remembered it. Ade Blackburn’s woozy croon is as high-register and disaffected as ever, thankfully, and when the boys do manage to venture into the unexpected, as on the acid-fried doo-wop “Emotions” or svelte romanticism of frigid “Corpus Christi,” the resultant sound is one to rival the eerie peaks of their best work.